Ag Weather Forum

North-Central Drought Alert

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , Ag Meteorologist Emeritus
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Despite Tropical Depression Cristobal rain in some Midwest areas, much of the north-central region has had below-normal rain over the past 30 days. Some areas have had only 10%-25% of normal for this time of year. (DTN graphic)

Just in time for the start of the astronomical summer season, a Drought Early Warning Update report was issued Friday, June 18, by NOAA and USDA. The report was focused on the north-central U.S. and includes the states of Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The report notes the following points: "Drought conditions have been recently deteriorating over areas of the north-central U.S. (Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming). Abnormally dry conditions have recently expanded as well.

A recent increase in atmospheric demand (i.e., crop water use) is starting to cause some stress on rangeland, grassland and crops as soil moisture availability is decreasing.

Forecasts show the possibility for rainfall in some areas over the next week. However, it is not likely to be widespread. In addition, there is a greater chance for above-normal temperatures across much of the north-central U.S. through the end of June into early July. Therefore, for those that do receive rainfall, hotter temperatures will likely continue to worsen conditions in some areas."

The southern fringe of this region is already well into drought. Drought Monitor level D2 (severe drought) and D3 (extreme drought) cover the southern half of Colorado and much of southwestern Kansas. The middle week of June brought expansion of abnormally dry areas by 10% in the Midwest and 8% in the Plains.

Over the past 30 days, the main weather trend has been warm, very warm or hot and primarily dry. Until the weekend of June 19-20, Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin, along with central and southeastern Nebraska, were the only areas in the region with above-normal precipitation over the 30-day period. Also during this time frame, temperatures trended above to much above normal. The seven-day period from Sunday, June 14-Sunday, June 21, offered moderate to heavy rain in much of the region, with amounts of one to more than 4 inches. The big question is whether there will be follow-up precipitation going into July.

Moving into the main part of the growing season, crop moisture demand is accelerating. Add that to the drying capability of hot and dry air fanned by windy conditions, and soil moisture can change quickly. Much of the north-central region went into this first full week of astronomical summer with below-normal soil moisture. That's a big contrast to the very wet conditions one year ago.

The report offers these points of special interest to agriculture:

A recent increase in atmospheric demand (i.e., crop water use) is starting to cause some stress on crops and rangeland as soil moisture deficits are increasing.

Over the last couple of weeks, crop conditions have worsened, according to USDA-NASS. The biggest impact will continue to be on rangeland and grassland. Crops are still early enough in growth stage to limit damage (except winter wheat).

Heat continuing into early July would start to harm corn reaching reproductive stages (i.e., tasseling).

Without timely and widespread precipitation, conditions will continue to deteriorate.

The full report is available at this link:…

Bryce Anderson

Twitter: @BAndersonDTN


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