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Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 9/26/12

U.S Winter Wheat Progress - Percent Planted as of September 23, 2012

U.S Winter Wheat Progress - Percent Planted as of September 23, 2012

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

Based on data since 1995, U.S. corn and soybean harvests are proceeding at a record pace.  By September 23, more than one-third (39%) of the corn had been harvested, three times the five-year average of 13%.  During the preceding 17 years, the record amount of U.S. corn harvested by September 23 had been 24% in 2000.  Similarly, more than one-fifth (22%) of the soybeans had been harvested by September 23.  Prior to this year, the record-setting soybean harvest pace by September 23 had been 18% in 2000. Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 9/19/12

U.S. Pasture and Range Conditions as of September 16, 2012.

U.S. Pasture and Range Conditions as of September 16, 2012. Click to enlarge image.

The 2012 summer crop season is quickly winding down.  By mid-September, more than three-quarters (76%) of the U.S. corn was fully mature and well over half (57%) of the soybeans were dropping leaves, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  More than one-quarter (26%) of the corn had already been harvested by September 16, a record-setting pace.  As the growing season comes to an end, corn and soybean conditions (currently 50% and 36% very poor to poor, respectively) remain comparable to those observed during the 1988 drought. Read more »

USDA Drought Code Sprint: Giving Americans One-Click Access to Federal Drought Relief

Editor’s note: After hearing from many of you, we are extending the deadline to submit your apps for the Drought Code Sprint to Wednesday, October 24 at 5 p.m. ET.

Americans across the country are feeling the impact of the most severe and extensive drought in the last 25 years.  We’ve heard from people throughout the United States, asking how they can help. That’s why today we’re launching USDA’s first-ever Drought Code Sprint, a call to developers across the country to use publicly available government information to help farmers, ranchers, and others gain quick and reliable “one-click” access to information on drought conditions and Federal drought relief.  Developers can submit their apps using this form by Wednesday, October 24 at 5 p.m ET.  Some of the most innovative ones will be featured on USDA.gov.

Crops are withering as a result of this historic drought and feed for livestock is growing ever more scarce and expensive.  None of us is immune—these conditions are affecting over 50% of the country and almost 80% of our agricultural land.  But our rural communities and family farmers and ranchers are on the front lines, and have been the first to feel the drought’s full effects. They are working hard to overcome these hardships, and the Federal Government has stepped up to help.

Of course, apps can’t influence the weather or refill our reservoirs. But they can help farmers and ranchers become more easily aware of the kinds of assistance available to them, and they can simplify the process of taking advantage of these options so relief gets to the people who need it as efficiently as possible.

Some tools we’d love to see include apps that provide “one-click” access to the nearest USDA service centers and available drought programs; county-level drought disaster designations and program eligibility; information on Federal assistance available based on location and sector; types of loans or refinance options available with a handy repayment calculator and eligibility requirements; drought maps; and localized weather outlooks.  These are just a few of our ideas but we’re confident that you have even better ones—so get coding!

To get started, check out these publicly available data sets in the Natural Hazards Data Community on Safety.Data.gov and on the USDA drought website:

We encourage developers to use other freely available resources on safety.data.gov or the USDA website as well—including Agriculture Weather and Drought Outlook blog posts and Drought Assistance Programs and Information sites—and any other data resources that would be helpful to those affected by the drought.

Here is a great opportunity to apply American ingenuity and technology to the cause of helping America’s farms. We look forward to seeing your ideas.

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 9/12/12

US. Pasture and Range Conditions for September 9, 2012.

US. Pasture and Range Conditions. Click to enlarge image.

With the summer crop season winding down at a rapid pace, the agricultural weather focus is turning to winter wheat.  In the hard red winter wheat belt of the Great Plains, wheat planting got off to a slow start due to extremely dry conditions.  By September 9 , planting was behind the five-year average pace in all seven major production states on the Plains, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  Planting progress was more than five percentage points behind the average in Colorado (0% planted versus the average of 13%), Nebraska (8 vs. 16%), and South Dakota (8 vs. 14%).   Ongoing drought across the nation’s mid-section is also reflected by current rangeland and pasture conditions.  On September 9, nearly all (97%) of the rangeland and pastures were rated very poor to poor in Nebraska, along with 92% in Missouri, 89% in Kansas, 87% in Colorado, and 86% in New Mexico.  Farther east, however, pastures have improved with recent rainfall.  Most notably, pastures in Illinois were rated 59% very poor to poor on September 9, a significant improvement from 72% a week ago and 90% on August 26. Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 9/5/12

Isaac's impacts: Locally heavy rains and strong winds from the Gulf Coast region to the corn belt.

Isaac's impacts: Locally heavy rains and strong winds from the Gulf Coast region to the corn belt.

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

Hurricane Isaac moved ashore early Wednesday, August 29, in southeastern Louisiana with maximum sustained winds near 80 mph.  Once inland, the storm steadily weakened, losing its tropical characteristics over Missouri on Saturday, September 1.  Nevertheless, Isaac’s remnant circulation continued to drift across the eastern Corn Belt during the Labor Day weekend, generating locally heavy showers from the lower Midwest into the mid-Atlantic region.   Storm-total rainfall reached 10 to 20 inches in the central Gulf Coast region, while some drought-affected areas in Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois received in excess of 4 inches.  In the Mid-South and lower Midwest, positive effects of Isaac’s rainfall included replenishment of soil moisture in preparation for the soft red winter wheat planting season and starting the process of pasture recovery. Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 8/31/12

Isaac's Impacts: Model Forecasted Rainfall, August 31, 2012

Isaac's Impacts: Model Forecasted Rainfall, August 31, 2012. Click to enlarge image.

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

Hurricane Isaac has grabbed most of the weather headlines in recent days, but drought remains deeply entrenched across nearly two-thirds of the continental United States.  According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, dated August 28, drought covered 62.9% of the Lower 48 states, down only slightly from a peak of 63.9% on July 24.  However, during the five-week period from July 24 to August 28, the portion of the country in exceptional drought (D4) increased from 2.4 to 6.0%. Read more »