Ag Weather Forum

Drought Briefing Highlights

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , Ag Meteorologist Emeritus
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Vegetation Drought Response Index analysis shows how stressed crops are in the north-central U.S. going into July. (NOAA NIDIS graphic)

Following are highlights of a special Drought Status Update produced as of July 1 for the north-central U.S. by the NOAA National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS).


Significant rainfall over the last week brought some drought relief to portions of the central U.S. (Michigan, Wisconsin, northern Illinois, southern Iowa). However, many drought areas were missed (North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, northern Iowa). Drought remains across much of the northern part of the Central U.S. Exceptional drought (D4) -- the worst level of drought -- is present in North Dakota and western Colorado, covering 18% and 17.5% of the states, respectively.

Crop conditions are worsening over the northwestern portions of the Corn Belt. Around a quarter of the corn is in poor to very poor condition in the Dakotas, and a third of the soybean crop is in poor to very poor condition as well. More significantly, spring wheat and barley conditions are the worst at this time of year for any year since 2000.

The unseasonably warm and dry pattern is expected to continue throughout July and the rest of summer in the Upper Missouri River Basin, and as a result, drought conditions will likely persist and possibly worsen in some areas. The Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for July and August shows above-normal potential for wildland fires across Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota.

Corn crops will be reaching the tasseling stage within the next few weeks; drought and heat stress during tasseling can have a big impact on yield. Therefore, there is a significant amount of concern if the dry forecast comes to fruition.


The full briefing is at this link:…

The extent and intensity of drought conditions point to the importance of rain chances during the next 10 days over the north-central U.S. Some of the best rainfall so far this growing season is indicated. However, even if this event verifies with rain totals of 2 or more inches in the north-central U.S., continued episodes of moisture will be needed to bring crops along through the rest of their production stages. That's because subsoil moisture is in many areas short to very short -- so there is no reserve for roots to draw on during the balance of this season.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

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