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Across the Corn Belt, an all-time crest record was broken on Thursday along the Mississippi River at Rock Island, Illinois. Currently, cool, dry weather prevails across the middle and upper Mississippi Valley, but locally heavy showers linger in the Ohio Valley and the lower Great Lakes region. Most Midwestern planting activities are at a virtual standstill due to cool and/or wet soils.

On the Plains, showers and thunderstorms dot roughly the southern half of the region, slowing fieldwork but maintaining generally favorable moisture reserves for winter wheat and spring-sown crops. Meanwhile, chilly conditions persist across the northern Plains, where spring planting is significantly behind schedule.

In the South, showers and thunderstorms are occurring in several areas, including the Tennessee Valley, portions of the western Gulf Coast region, and along the southern Atlantic Coast. The rain is slowing fieldwork but is beneficial for crops in areas of the Deep South that have trended dry in recent weeks.

In the West, temperatures have rebounded to near-normal levels in California, the Great Basin, and the Desert Southwest, promoting fieldwork and crop development. Cool conditions persist, however, in the Rockies and the Northwest.

An active weather pattern, featuring multiple disturbances, will maintain unsettled, showery conditions during the next few days in most areas east of the Rockies. Five-day rainfall totals could reach 1 to 3 inches or more in many areas, including the South, East, and the Ohio Valley. Post-storm lowland flooding will be a concern from the southeastern Plains into the Midwest, while the Mississippi River will remain near record-high levels along the Illinois-Iowa border. Meanwhile, mostly dry weather will prevail west of the Rockies, accompanied by a warming trend. In contrast, another surge of chilly air, along with rain and snow showers, will arrive during the weekend and early next week across the North.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for the likelihood of wetter-than-normal weather nearly nationwide. Below-normal precipitation should be limited to an area stretching from northern California and the Pacific Northwest to the northern Plains. Meanwhile, warmer-than-normal conditions across the Far West and from the Gulf Coast into the Mid-Atlantic States will contrast with below-normal temperatures in other areas, including the Rockies, Plains, and upper Midwest.

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