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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 »

Our Response to the 2012 Drought; SBA Recovery Assistance Available in Rural America

Cross posted from the Small Business Administration Blog:

Today, I attended a meeting of the White House Rural Council, which focused on our coordinated response to historic drought conditions that are affecting communities across Rural America.

Our goal at the SBA and across the Administration is making sure that these hard hit communities have the tools and the resources they need to navigate and recover from these severe drought conditions.

To date, the SBA has issued 71 agency drought declarations in 32 states covering more than 1,630 counties. These declarations allow small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and non-farm small businesses that are economically affected by the drought in their community to apply for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 8/6/12

Agricultural Weather Assessments - U.S. Corn Conditions

Agricultural Weather Assessments - U.S. Corn Conditions

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

During the week of July 29 – August 4, scattered showers and slightly cooler conditions provided some relief to drought-stressed summer crops—primarily soybeans—in the Corn Belt.  Weekly rainfall totaled an inch or more in numerous Midwestern locations, with at least 2 inches reported in parts of the middle Mississippi and lower Ohio Valleys.  Meanwhile in the Southeast, where 2- to 4-inch weekly totals were common, pastures and immature summer crops continued to benefit from widespread showers.  Farther west, however, extreme heat shifted to the southern Plains.  In fact, weekly temperatures averaged at least 10°F above normal—and highs topped 110°F—in an area centered on Oklahoma, where recent wildfires charred thousands of acres and destroyed dozens of homes. Read more »

Agricultural Weather and Drought Update – 8/3/12

Percent of Normal Rainfall, July 1-31, 2012

Percent of Normal Rainfall, July 1-31, 2012

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

Historically hot, dry conditions covered many of the nation’s key agricultural regions during July.  Preliminary data provided by the National Weather Service indicated that July rainfall totaled less than 50 percent of normal in a broad area stretching from the central and southern Plains into the Mid-South and Midwest.  No measurable rain fell during July in several locations.  Meanwhile, monthly temperatures generally ranged from 4 to 8°F above normal across the northern and central Plains and the Midwest.  It was the hottest July on record in cities such as Rockford, Illinois; Denver, Colorado; and La Crosse, Wisconsin, breaking all-time records set in 1921, 1934, and 1936, respectively. Read more »