Weather SatelliteWith row crop season approaching, soil quality will continue to be a hot topic. Satellite imagery from NASA’s Short-term Prediction and Research Transition (SPoRT) project recently found the top 16 inches of the soil in the Corn Belt was either too wet or too dry, leaving no in-between. What is the significance of measuring at this depth? The 16-inch level is where the bulk of a corn plant’s root mass is located.

A lack of moisture has left much of the Midwest below the 20th percentile, including Michigan; Wisconsin; northern Illinois; southern Minnesota; Iowa; northern and western Missouri; most of South Dakota; Nebraska; eastern Colorado; Kansas; Oklahoma; and Texas. In contrast, widespread winter storms have brought too much moisture, above the 90th percentile, to southern Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, northern Minnesota and parts of the Dakotas.

Weather patterns for the next 30 to 90 days are currently showing little change in this disparity. Read more on the outlook for spring planting.