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Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 8/24/12

Tropical Storm Isaac as of August 23 at 2pm EDT.

Tropical Storm Isaac as of August 23 at 2pm EDT. Click image to enlarge.

Visit www.usda.gov/drought for the latest information regarding USDA’s Drought Disaster response and assistance.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor, dated August 21, reflects a persistence of drought across the majority of the nation.  Overall conterminous U.S. drought coverage stands at 63%, up slightly from 62% on August 14 but below the July 24 maximum of 64%.  In the last week, U.S. corn in drought climbed a percentage point to 86%, but still below the July 24 peak of 89%.  Soybeans in drought remained steady at 83%, five percentage points below the July 24 high.  Hay in drought remained steady at 63% for the third consecutive week, down from a high of 66% on July 17 and 24.  Cattle in drought rose a percentage point in the last week to 72%, slightly below the July 17 and 24 peak of 73%.  Crops and cattle in exceptional drought (D4) remained nearly unchanged – 8% of the U.S. corn, 10% of the soybeans, 12% of the hay, and 14% of the cattle.

Weather Update and Outlook:  Hot weather has returned to the northern Plains and the Midwest, following a two-week period of favorably cooler weather.  The heat has brought renewed stress to pastures and soybeans that had begun to recover in early to mid-August.  On the central and southern Plains, however, interaction between the Southwestern monsoon circulation and a series of weak cold fronts has resulted in a recent and ongoing increase in shower activity.  In fact, rainfall totals during the next few days could reach two to four inches, with locally higher amounts, across portions of the central and southern Plains and the middle Mississippi Valley.  Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Isaac has moved into the Caribbean Sea.  By the afternoon of August 23, Isaac was centered south of Puerto Rico.  On its expected path, provided by the National Hurricane Center, Isaac’s circulation will interact with the Caribbean islands of Hispaniola and Cuba before approaching Florida early next week.  However, there is a great deal of uncertainty with regard to Isaac’s exact track.  In addition, the degree of Isaac’s land interactions well help to determine its strength upon arrival in the vicinity of Florida.  U.S. crops potentially in the path of Isaac include citrus, sugarcane, and cotton.

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