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Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
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Iowa has its most extensive drought in eight years, while drought conditions have either eased or been removed in the southern and eastern Midwest. (National Drought Mitigation Center graphic)

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows a real contrast in the central U.S. between the haves and have-nots when it comes to rainfall. A swath from central Oklahoma northeast to Ohio saw either dryness easing or removal of drought conditions in early August. The Drought Monitor discussion of conditions had this description of the Midwest:

"Wet conditions dominated the region from Missouri to southern Ohio where 200+ percent of normal precipitation was recorded for the week. Improvements were made to the abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions in southern Missouri. Abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions were improved in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and into portions of Ohio in response to the greatest rains ... Improvements to the moderate drought and abnormally dry conditions were made in southeast Kansas and central Nebraska."

In the southern U.S., the Drought Monitor offered more details on rainfall benefit:

"Almost a full (drought) category improvement was made from central Oklahoma into northwest Arkansas in response to both the cooler temperatures and above-normal precipitation. Areas of southeast Texas were improved with both abnormally dry and moderate drought reduced."

Row crops in the eastern Midwest have definitely responded to that amount of rainfall. Illinois, Indiana and Ohio have posted either high single-digit or double-digit percentage point increases in the amount of corn and soybeans rated good to excellent compared with the situation in mid-July.

But there are have-not areas too. In primary crop area discussion, the western Midwest and Texas are prominent in missing out on the rain. The Drought Monitor offered this description of the Western Corn Belt conditions:

"Portions of the upper Midwest continue to remain dry, with new areas of abnormally dry conditions introduced into northern Minnesota, western Wisconsin, southeast Minnesota and northeast Iowa. In western Iowa, the areas of moderate and severe drought were expanded with a new area of extreme drought introduced this week ... A new area of severe drought was added in eastern Nebraska in response to dryness that has lingered in the region since last fall."

There are all or portions of 11 counties in west-central Iowa in the extreme drought category (D3). In the Drought Monitor class definition, here's what happens with this category:

D3: Major crop/pasture losses; Widespread water shortages or restrictions; Pastures are dry; producers sell cattle; crops are tested for toxins; crops have pest infestation; Seasonal allergies are worse; farmers are stressed about high feed prices; Trees drop leaves; acorns are underdeveloped; Warm water leads to fish kills; streambeds are low to dry.

This is the driest Iowa has been since the extreme drought year of 2012. The percentage of the state that is now in some phase of drought increased by 17 percentage points, from about 63% a week ago to just under 80% in the Aug. 4 Drought Monitor.

Drought was also noted expanding in the western Plains, with the Nebraska Panhandle and northeastern Colorado either having abnormally dry areas expanded or being moved into moderate drought (D1). And in the southwestern Plains, central and western Texas have extreme drought expanding in area, as described by the Drought Monitor:

"Areas of central and west Texas had degradation with an expansion and introduction of extreme drought in this region. Continued improvement occurred over the panhandle of Texas where rains have helped local conditions while neighboring counties saw degradation."

For the driest areas in the next week, DTN precipitation forecasts suggest a maximum of 0.75 inch in most of Iowa, with either completely dry conditions in central and western Texas or only slight rainfall -- less than 0.25 inch.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at Bryce.anderson@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @BAndersonDTN

Bryce Anderson

Bryce Anderson
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