Harvest of dryness

Despite the widespread soaking rains, the April precipitation total for Philadelphia still is slightly below normal, and significantly down for the year.

The dryness has been widespread, and it has had one positive benefit for Pennsylvania's farmers. Plantings of crops such as corn, oats, and potatoes are way ahead of schedule.

In issuing its weekly update this afternoon, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 86 percent of the oat crop had been planted as of last week, compared with the average of 43, and just 5 percent last year.

As for potatoes, 35 percent of the crop has been planted, of five times the average.

Overall, 76 percent of the spring planting has been completed, compared with the average of 39, and 13 in 2011.

The apples have been particulary precocious, with 99 percent reported "in the pink." The average is 35.

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