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story.lead_photo.caption Water is seen flooding farmland in an aerial photograph taken over La Moille, Ill., on May 29, 2019. Bloomberg photo by Daniel Acker.

A river-swelling deluge is forecast to sweep the U.S. South while farmers across the Midwest will struggle to string together a handful of dry days to catch up on corn and soybean planting.

About 4-7 inches of rain is forecast through the next seven days from southeast Texas through North Carolina, as tropical moisture pulses in from the Gulf of Mexico, according to the U.S. Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Md. Flood watches hug the coast from Houston to New Orleans. That's after months of rain have left the Mississippi River and other rivers spilling over their banks.

"It is not going to make it better, there are going to be more problems," said Tom Kines, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pa. "Once the moisture gets into Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana, it is going to be slow to leave and stick around for days."

Rain, too much in most places and too little in others, has written a tale of misery for farmers in the U.S. and Canada for months. Soybean prices surged to a six-week high Tuesday after U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that planting for the crop, along with corn, was the slowest in records going back to the 1980s.

Just 39% of the American soybean crop was planted as of Sunday, the lowest on record for this time of year, the USDA data show. Corn plantings also are holding at an all-time slow pace. Last year, farmers had largely finished sowing the two crops in early June.

Across the Corn Belt, there will be only sporadic days of dry weather in the next two weeks to help farmers catch up, said Dan Hicks, meteorologist at Freese-Notis Weather in Des Moines, Iowa.

"For parts of Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, it is possible that they may never get all the corn planted," Hicks said by telephone. "There are no clear signs for a week of dry weather to allow a rapid finish in most areas."

About the only place where the rain will be welcome is in the southeastern U.S., where near drought conditions have held on for weeks, Hicks said.

Along the Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri rivers and their tributaries, 121 locations are registering moderate to major flooding, the two worst designations on the weather service's scale. The Mississippi River has been high since the fall.

Traffic on the Mississippi River stopped at several points along the waterway, delaying shipments of grain, chemicals and energy products. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is prepared to open the Morganza Spillway, which will flood rural parts of central Louisiana, to take pressure off the river.

"In eastern Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta there is going to be worsening flooding," Hicks said. "It is going to get worse in the next five or six days."

Business on 06/06/2019

Print Headline: Few dry days keep farmers out of fields

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