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Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 8/27/12

Tropical Storm Isaac - August 27, 2012 as of 2pm EDT

Tropical Storm Isaac - August 27, 2012 as of 2pm EDT. Click to enlarge image.

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

In recent days, some of the weather focus has shifted from drought to the tropics. Indeed, Tropical Storm Isaac is bearing down on the central Gulf Coast of the United States, and hurricane warnings have been issued from Morgan City, Louisiana, to Destin, Florida.  According to the National Hurricane Center, a coastal storm surge of 6 to 12 feet can be expected in southeastern Louisiana and southern portions of Alabama and Mississippi, along and just east of Isaac’s expected path.  On its present course, Isaac should reach the central Gulf Coast late Tuesday.  The NHC indicates that further strengthening can be expected prior to landfall, and Isaac should reach the coast as a Category 1 hurricane – with sustained winds of 74 to 95 mph.  Another threat related to Isaac will be flooding rains.  Rainfall has already topped 10 inches in parts of southeastern Florida, where locally heavy squalls persist.  In the central Gulf Coast region, widespread 6- to 12-inch totals are forecast, with isolated amounts near 18 inches possible.  Crops potentially in the path of Isaac include cotton and sugarcane.  By August 26, cotton bolls open in the Delta States ranged from 32% in Missouri to 61% in Louisiana.  Cotton in the open-boll stage of development is especially vulnerable to damage when high winds and heavy rain occur.  In Louisiana, more than one-quarter (28%) of the new sugarcane crop had been planted by August 19.  Many other crops, including unharvested corn, rice, and soybeans, could be susceptible to lodging (i.e. being flattened or blown over) or quality degradation due to Isaac’s effects. Read more »

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. Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 8/21/12

U.S. Pasture and Range Conditions, August 19, 2012.

U.S. Pasture and Range Conditions, August 19, 2012. Click to enlarge image.

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

During the last week, the heat that has been affecting much of the nation’s heartland all summer has shifted into the western United States.  As a result, wildfires have flourished in parts of the West, particularly in Idaho and northern California.  By August 20, the area burned by year-to-date U.S. wildfires reached 6.9 million acres, well above the 10-year average of 5.3 million acres. Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 8/16/12

U.S. cattle areas located in drought.

U.S. cattle areas located in drought. Click 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 14, indicates that some drought-affected areas of the United States have begun to turn the corner with respect to the historic drought of 2012.  During the seven-day period ending August 14, conterminous U.S. drought coverage fell to 61.8%, down from a July 24 peak of 63.9%.  Continental U.S. coverage of extreme to exceptional drought (D3 to D4), the two worst drought categories, dipped to 23.7%, less than one-half of a percentage point below last week’s peak.  However, U.S. exceptional drought (D4) coverage actually rose in the last week, from 4.2 to 6.3%, on the strength of worsening conditions in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.  In fact, Missouri leads the nation—according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service—in very poor to poor ratings for pastures (98% VP to P), corn (84%), and soybeans (75%). Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 8/14/12

U.S. Soybean Coinditions, August 12, 2012. Data obtailed from preliminary National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) weekly crop progress and condition tables.

U.S. Soybean Conditions, August 12, 2012. Data obtained from preliminary National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) weekly crop progress and condition tables.

Cooler weather and recent rain showers have largely stabilized crop conditions in the Midwest.  Rainfall has been heaviest in the eastern Corn Belt, including Michigan and Ohio, although nearly all of the Midwest has received some precipitation.  Still, U.S. corn and soybean conditions remain at levels unseen since the Drought of 1988, according to USDA/NASS.  During the week ending August 12, corn rated very poor to poor rose slightly to 51%, just two percentage points shy of the August 1988 peak.  Soybeans rated very poor to poor reached a record-high 39% last week, but improved one percentage point during the week ending August 12.

This year’s U.S. corn crop is developing so rapidly that August rainfall will provide only limited drought relief.  By August 12, nearly half (42%) of the corn had dented, while 10% was fully mature.  Five-year averages for those two categories are 16 and 3%, respectively.  In contrast, soybeans seem to be benefiting from the turn toward cooler, wetter weather.  In Ohio, for example, the portion of the soybean crop rated very poor to poor fell from 42 to 34% during the week ending August 12.

Typically, rangeland and pastures are slow to recover from a devastating drought.  Complete recovery often requires not only the change of seasons, but also many soaking rainfall events.  Currently, the amount of U.S. rangeland and pastures rated in very poor to poor condition remains steady at 59%.  Nearly all of the rangeland and pastures are rated very poor to poor in Missouri (98%), Illinois (94%), Nebraska (92%), and Kansas (90%).  At least half of the rangeland and pastures are rated very poor to poor in 22 of the 48 contiguous United States.

Weather Update and Outlook:  Currently, a cold front is traversing the eastern Corn Belt.  A second cold front will arrive in the upper Midwest on August 15 and reach the South and East by August 17.  Both fronts combined will produce as much as 1 to 2 inches of rain, with locally higher amounts, mainly across the South, East, and lower Midwest.  Somewhat lighter amounts of rain can be expected across the northern and central Plains and the upper Midwest.  In the wake of the second cold front, unusually cool air will blanket the Plains and the Midwest.  In fact, an extended period of near- to below-normal temperatures can be expected east of the Rockies starting later this week and extending at least into next week.

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 8/9/12

U.S corn areas located in drought.

U.S corn areas located in drought. (Click 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, valid August 7, indicates that the percentage of corn and soybeans in drought remains relatively stable.  However, corn and soybeans in the most two serious drought categories (D3 to D4, or extreme to exceptional drought) continue to rise sharply.  Approximately 87% of the U.S. corn is within an area experiencing drought, down from a peak of 89% on July 24.  Similarly, 85% of the U.S. soybeans are in a drought area, down from a high of 88% on July 24.  During the three-week period ending August 7, corn in extreme to exceptional drought nearly quadrupled, from 14 to 53%, while soybeans in the two worst drought categories (D3 or D4) more than tripled from 16 to 50%. Read more »