CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — The start of Illinois’ growing season is near and state climate experts say soil moisture levels are near normal.

Jennie Atkins of the Illinois State Water Survey at the University of Illinois said Tuesday that moisture levels were a little above normal for this time of year near the surface and just below normal a little deeper.

Atkins said in a news release that both levels are big improvements over last year. Low moisture levels at the beginning of the growing season in 2012 were followed by severe drought.

Farmers in parts of the state have begun field work ahead of corn planting. But wet weather has most waiting to plant.

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