Some areas of the United States received much-needed rains over the past week while others remained dry, according to the latest Weekly Weather and Crop Update from the World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB). Unusually hot and windy weather helped accelerate loss of soil moisture and fueled persistent forest fires in several Western states.
Some parts of the Central and Southern Plains, Midwest and South were hit with rains totaling two to four inches, including northern and eastern Texas, the upper Mississippi River Valley and the southern Atlantic states. Rains last week helped relieve dry conditions for much of the western Corn Belt, including Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, eastern Nebraska and much of Kansas. Much of the eastern Corn Belt, including Illinois, Indiana and Ohio remains dry.
The Crop Moisture Index maps show that even where rain fell last week, soil moisture remains short of crop needs in many areas. Most of the eastern half of the country however rates as “slightly dry” in terms of short-term soil moisture. Most of the western half of the country, other than the Northwest, shows “abnormally dry” to “severely dry” short-term soil moisture.
One benefit or our earlier and warmer-than-normal spring this year is in plant growth, at least where moisture is available. A map showing departure from normal growing degree days (GDG) from March 1 through June 16 shows most of the nation running ahead of normal by 100 to 500 GDG, with just a few areas along the Pacific Coast running behind.
The dry conditions are beginning to take a toll, which shows up in week-to-week changes in estimated crop conditions. The report indicates that for the week ending June 17, 11 percent of the corn crop in the top 18 corn-producing states was in excellent condition, 52 percent in good condition, 28 percent fair, 7 percent poor and 2 percent very poor. For the previous week, USDA rated 12 percent of the crop excellent, 54 percent good, 26 percent fair, 6 percent poor and 2 percent very poor.
Pasture and range conditions also have declined somewhat. Nationally, USDA rates 5 percent of pasture and range in excellent condition for the week ending June 17, with 35 percent in good condition, 32 percent in fair condition, 19 percent in poor condition and 9 percent rating very poor. Those numbers are similar to those for the previous week, but show a decline from one year ago when 11 percent rated excellent, 42 percent rated good, 22 percent were fair, 12 percent poor and 13 percent very poor.