Ag Weather Forum

August Soil Moisture Changes

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
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August brought some big soil moisture increases to the northwestern Corn Belt and the Southeast, but some major declines elsewhere. (NOAA Graphic)

A look at soil moisture at the end of the meteorological summer season -- the end of August -- shows a very mixed message. Analysis by NOAA notes that the ranking of soil moisture levels for the end of August has almost the entire central U.S. ranked in either the top half or the top third relative to historical averages. So -- that's a pretty healthy shot of moisture -- right?

Well, not so fast on that assumption. (Many of you know where this is going.) Reviewing the change in soil moisture levels during the past full month puts a considerably different spin on the subject.

Over the past five weeks, soil moisture levels declined by around 40 millimeters (close to two inches) in the central and Eastern Corn Belt, the western and Southern Plains, and the Delta and Deep South. There were some big additions because of heavy rain, but they were confined to portions of the northwestern Corn Belt and the Southeast. The overall impact -- a reduction in soil moisture levels during August.

The takeaway message is that comments about dryness in the Midwest during the past few weeks are indeed well-placed. And, with a dry pattern for the south-central and southern U.S. impending over the next week, it's going to remain dry for a while. It's no wonder that harvest has been rolling along in the Delta and is set to migrate into the Midwest as well, starting right after the Farm Progress Show brings down the 2015 curtain.


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