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Across the Corn Belt, conditions remain unfavorable for widespread corn and soybean planting activities, with separate areas of rain affecting eastern and western production areas. In addition, unusually cool weather lingers across the Midwest, except in the Ohio Valley. A record was set for least U.S. corn planting complete by May 26—just 58%--compared to the former standard of 67% in 1995.

On the Plains, mild, dry weather is developing across Montana and North Dakota, favoring late-season planting activities and the development of winter wheat and spring-sown crops. Showery conditions linger, however, in parts of Nebraska and South Dakota, while locally severe thunderstorms dot the southern Plains.

In the South, an early-season spell of hot, dry weather is hastening winter wheat maturation but increasing stress on spring-sown crops from the southern Appalachians to the Atlantic Seaboard. On May 26, topsoil moisture was rated 86% very short to short in South Carolina, along with 77% in Georgia, 64% in Florida, and 60% in North Carolina. In contrast, the Arkansas River crest recently passed Van Buren, Arkansas, where the river remains more than 18 feet above flood stage and more than 2 feet above the April 1945 former record.

In the West, lingering cool weather from California to the central and southern Rockies continues to slow crop development. Meanwhile, warm, dry weather has developed across the northern tier of the region.

Showers and locally severe thunderstorms will linger for the remainder of Wednesday across parts of the Plains and Midwest, but improving conditions will gradually overspread the nation’s mid-section during the second half of the week. However, hot, mostly dry weather will persist in the Southeast. Elsewhere, below-normal temperatures will linger for the next few days in California and the Southwest, while warm weather will cover the northern Plains and the Northwest.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for near- or above-normal temperatures nationwide, except for cooler-than-normal conditions from the Great Lakes region into the Northeast. Meanwhile, above-normal rainfall in northern New England and from southern California to the middle Mississippi Valley should contrast with drier-than-normal weather from the Pacific Northwest to the northern High Plains; in portions of the Gulf Coast region; and from the Mid-Atlantic States northward into the Great Lakes region.

Greg Soulje, a professional meteorologist since 1985, offers national agricultural weather forecasts via "This Week in Agribusiness."