Much of the nation's food-producing area is brimming with moisture that will be needed in a few months to produce key crops such as corn, wheat and soybeans, says the Agriculture Department's chief weatherman.

"We're sitting with saturated soils over much of the eastern part of the nation right now," said Norton D. Strommen, chief meteorologist for the department's world agricultural outlook board."Most of the Corn Belt has got more moisture in the ground right now than when we started the growing season last year," he said.

No weather is perfect for all people. Too much rain or snow has caused floods and hardship for many. There also are huge pockets of severe drought where longtime moisture deficits still lurk ominously.

Strommen commented after a weekly report Tuesday by the government's Joint Agricultural Weather Facility showed the cold weather that pinched California fruit and vegetable crops was part of a frisky general pattern that wound up the old year and ushered in the new.

"The year 1990 ended with a slew of records and extremes," the facility said in its report for the week of Dec. 30-Jan. 5.

Low temperature records were set in nearly 50 locations, from the northern plains to Texas, westward to California, the report said.

"Meanwhile, more than 30 record highs were notched from Maine to Florida," the report said.