Sandy's Fallout Skips Drought-Plagued Midwest

FILE - In this July 26, 2012 file photo, a field of dried corn plants is seen near Percival, Iowa. In its weekly map, The U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, showed that as of Tuesday, just over two-thirds of Iowa, the nation's biggest corn producer, was in extreme or exceptional drought _ the worst two classifications. That's up more than 5 percentage points, to 67.5 percent, from the previous week. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

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By Katie Stinson

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Drought-plagued Midwest farming states got little benefit from the massive storm that pounded the Eastern Seaboard this week, although the nation's worst drought in decades appears to be easing in some areas.

The U.S. Drought Monitor's weekly update posted Thursday shows that 60 percent of the land in the lower 48 states is experiencing some degree of drought as of Tuesday. That's down nearly 2 percentage points, taking into account much of Sandy's fallout.

Dry conditions continued easing in Iowa, North Dakota and Illinois, although far too late to help the corn and soybean crops, which are nearly completely harvested.

The federal government says 88 percent of this year's winter wheat crop had been planted as of Monday. That's 3 percentage points lower than the five-year average.

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