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May’s Cold Start Will Keep Northern Plains Soil Cool

(Corrects name of university in fourth paragraph.)

April 27 (Bloomberg) -- Temperatures will drop below freezing twice next week in the upper Great Plains, where soil temperatures in some areas are below normal at prime planting time, said Allen Motew, a meteorologist with QT Information Systems in Chicago.

Hard freezes are likely in North Dakota and South Dakota and parts of Nebraska and eastern Colorado on May 1, he said. The cold may spread to encompass northwestern Iowa and parts of Wisconsin the next day.

“The effects of that is, it keeps the soil temperature cold,” Motew said by telephone. “We’re running 10 degrees Fahrenheit below normal for Iowa soil temperature. It is of significance.”

Soybean plants that are exposed to 28 degrees (minus 2 Celsius) or colder for more than three hours have to be replanted, according to Iowa State University. Corn won’t germinate in soil below 50 degrees, according to the university’s agronomy extension school.

Soil temperatures at a depth of 4 inches range from 46 degrees to 48 degrees across North and South Dakota, Minnesota, northern Nebraska and Iowa.

Ground temperatures are important because a late start to planting may affect how much can be harvested. In northeastern Iowa, for example, corn needs to be planted from April 12 to May 2 in order to reach a yield of 95 to 100 percent, according to the university.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at

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