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Worsening drought in Minnesota threatens corn, soybean harvests

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The heat wave and lack of significant rainfall this week isn't helping to improve dry conditions across majority of Minnesota.

According to U.S. Drought Monitor data released Tuesday, nearly 55 percent of the state is considered to be in a moderate drought, up from just over 10 percent last week.

Abnormally dry conditions can be found throughout the state, with the exception of some areas along the Canadian border.

The multi-agency group says temperatures ranging from 8 to 11 degrees above average in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin are creating a "late-season flash drought."

The Twin Cities has seen three straight days of mid-90 degree temperatures and heat indices between 105 and 110 degrees.

It's deja vu for Midwest farmers who struggled with a historic drought and an unusually wet and cold spring. The Associated Press reports corn and soybeans may not have enough moisture to develop to full weight, creating smaller harvests.

However, last fall, Minnesota's corn harvest was up about 15 percent from 2011, earning growers some of their best incomes since the early 1970s.

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Farmers making progress on early corn and soybean harvests

It's only mid-September, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture says 12 percent of Minnesota's corn crop is already harvested. The Pioneer Press notes that is roughly three weeks earlier than last year. The soybean harvest is also well ahead of the five-year average with 16 percent complete.