Drought worsens in some farm statesST. LOUIS — The nation’s worst drought in decades is showing no sign of letting up in several key Midwest farming states, worrying farmers harvesting the summer’s withered corn crop in record time that their winter crops may also be at risk.
By: Jim Suhr, The Associated Press
ST. LOUIS — The nation’s worst drought in decades is showing no sign of letting up in several key Midwest farming states, worrying farmers harvesting the summer’s withered corn crop in record time that their winter crops may also be at risk.
Overall drought conditions in the lower 48 states held steady over the seven-day period ending Tuesday, with about one-fifth of the total land area in extreme or exceptional drought, the two worst classifications, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor’s weekly update of its drought map released Thursday.
Conditions worsened, though, in Kansas and Iowa, the nation’s biggest corn producer, and nearly 98 percent of Nebraska was still deemed to be in one of the two worst categories.
The unrelenting dryness won’t have much effect on the region’s corn and soybean crops, which are already being plucked from the fields. But it could hurt other crops, such as winter wheat.
The USDA reported Monday that emergence of winter wheat was lagging, given the extremely dry conditions that could keep that rotational crop from properly germinating. Just five percent of that crop had emerged in South Dakota, down sharply from 32 percent over the previous five years. Similar issues were reported in Nebraska, Colorado, Montana and Oregon.
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows 27 percent of South Dakota in the “exceptional” drought category, up from about 7 percent a week ago.
More than 82 percent of the state is in severe, extreme or exceptional drought, up from 75 percent.
About half of North Dakota is in severe or extreme drought, up from about 28 percent last week.
Areas that were considered just abnormally dry last week are now categorized as being in at least moderate drought.