US Midwest still feeling the drought

US Midwest still feeling the drought
Jun 30, 2023

For the week ending June 27, 2023, 70 percent of corn and 63 percent of soybeans were impacted by drought.

Andrew Joseph,; Image by aidosnet from Pixabay

The latest US Drought Monitor has shown that drought has hit more of Illinois and Indiana between June 20 and 27, 2023, with 70 percent of all US corn and 63 percent of all US soybeans also afflicted by drought.

The week before, drought had affected 64 percent of corn and 57 percent of soybean crops. The most recent data shows an increase of six percent in corn and soybeans affected by drought.

Even with rain sweeping the northern Corn Belt last weekend, the latest drought monitor shows drought continues to spread across Illinois.

The Monitor still noted a D2 (Severe Drought), as severe drought covers nearly 59 percent of Illinois, which is up by 28 percent in a single week. The amount of the state considered abnormally dry is 92 percent—up 10 percentage points over the week previous.

Missouri is also seeing the impacts of drought take a toll across the state. D3 (Exceptional Drought) spans nearly 20 percent of the state, up from 15.7 percent last week. D2 (Severe Drought) is covering more than half of the state, close to a 10-percent spike in a week.

Across the entire Midwest, the Drought Monitor shows:

  • 71 percent of the Midwest is D1/Abnormally Dry, a six-point increase from the previous week’s 58.49 percent;
  • 65 percent is D2, severe drought, up nearly nine percent;
  • D3 (Exceptional Drought) increased to 3.52 percent, up from 2.59 percent the previous week.

According to the authors of this week’s drought update, there were widespread changes across the US, including heavy rains in the Northeast.

"The Midwest and east-central Great Plains saw mostly worsening conditions, widespread crop stress, and low streamflows after another week of mostly dry weather. A mix of improvements and degradations occurred in Texas, where recent precipitation amounts have varied widely. The northern Great Plains received widespread heavy rainfall this week, leading to large-scale improvements to the ongoing drought and abnormal dryness. In the Pacific Northwest, a few areas saw above-normal precipitation and improving conditions, but larger parts of the region saw increasing evaporative demand, continued dry weather, and lowering streamflows, leading to worsening conditions."

The authors noted heavy rains hit parts of Ohio and Kentucky, which did improve long-term drought conditions, but much of the region also saw conditions worsen, including in central Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, southwest Wisconsin, southeast Minnesota, and southeast Iowa.

"Almost completely dry weather in Missouri and the southern two-thirds of Illinois led to widespread degradations, where streamflow and soil moisture continued to decrease amid mounting precipitation deficits, creating potential problems for corn and soybean production this growing season," the Drought Monitor stated this week. "In Missouri, cold weather in December and April has combined with the ongoing drought to lead to a 70 percent reduction in wine production. Hay production in Missouri was also reported to be one-third normal. In southeast Iowa, producers reported rolling corn leaves and stunted soybean plants. In the Upper Midwest states, strawberry production was also struggling."

According to USDA-NASS, corn condition ratings across the US dropped to only 50 percent in good to excellent condition this week. The five-point decline in a week means this year’s corn crop has only been rated worse one other time in history—in 1988.

That’s also a change from last week, when both 1992 and 1988 held the record for lower ratings.

The drought is stirring up debate on its impact on overall crop production and yield across the US. A recent survey by AgWeb found that 61 percent of respondents are getting more worried by the day when it comes to corn yields.

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