Ag Weather Forum

Drought Still Looms Over Western Corn Belt

By Bryce Anderson , DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst
(Map courtesty NOAA)

The monthly NOAA Drought Outlook was posted Thursday, Feb. 21, and after comparing this one to a month ago, the overall Corn Belt-wide evaluation for now through the end of May (end of the meteorological spring) is "no change." Here's why:

Some possible improvement is indicated over all of western and central Missouri along with the western 2/3 of Iowa, the western half of Minnesota, and the eastern Dakotas. That is certainly a more promising setup in South Dakota, where soils are very dry.

However, the forecast a month ago called for definite improvement across all of Minnesota, the eastern Dakotas, and the eastern half of Iowa. The fact that definite improvement has been dialed back is an indication that the next three months still offer some challenges in the northwestern Corn Belt when it comes to soil moisture recharge.

And, of course, the Plains west has no change. Drought to persist. And even the immediate Four Corners region, which had a tag of "some improvement" last month, is back to a "persistence" call for drought conditions this spring.


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MARK & LEA NOWAK 2/24/2013 | 7:23 AM CST
From S.C Minnesota. We have had 4.25" of liquid since Fall tillage was complete with it all soaking into the soil. So we only need 2 to 3 Spring rains to get us off to a great start with planting and early growth. Then, yes, it will depend upon timely rains into late June, July and August to make a crop. We found out last year that we can raise a record crop with 70% of normal precip
if it comes timely. We have had a pattern the last 30 days of systems coming in more frequently with moisture. This is nearly the identical pattern to 1935, after the 1934 drought. 1935 then was a pretty good growing season. As farmers we need to be optimistic plus buying good levels of crop insurance in case Mother Nature bursts our optimism.
Rick Hedrick 2/23/2013 | 2:48 PM CST
Bryce, Where does the USDA gather their information in making predicted crop yeilds and acres planted when the NOAA publishes maps like the one above? Ive been to Mich, Ohio, Tenn, and a few other corn belt states and the farms I have been to are bone dry after digging down a foot to three feet. I dont think we will see 99 or 97 mil acres planted and yeilds around 145bu/ac based on the plant population reductions due to low moisture. As always, Thanks for the great information.