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11-22-2012 05:33 PM
US drought worsens after reports of improvement
Published November 22, 2012
The worst U.S. drought in decades has deepened again after more than a month of encouraging reports of slowly improving conditions, a drought-tracking consortium said Wednesday, as scientists struggled for an explanation other than a simple lack of rain.
While more than half of the continental U.S. has been in a drought since summer, rain storms had appeared to be easing the situation week by week since late September. But that promising run ended with Wednesday's weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report, which showed increases in the portion of the country in drought and the severity of it.
The report showed that 60.1 percent of the lower 48 states were in some form of drought as of Tuesday, up from 58.8 percent the previous week. The amount of land in extreme or exceptional drought -- the two worst classifications -- increased from 18.3 percent to 19.04 percent.
The Drought Monitor's map tells the story, with dark red blotches covering the center of the nation and portions of Texas and the Southeast as an indication of where conditions are the most intense. Those areas are surrounded by others in lesser stages of drought, with only the Northwest, Florida and a narrow band from New England south to Mississippi escaping.
A federal meteorologist cautioned that Wednesday's numbers shouldn't be alarming, saying that while drought usually subsides heading into winter, the Drought Monitor report merely reflects a week without rain in a large chunk of the country.
"The places that are getting precipitation, like the Pacific Northwest, are not in drought, while areas that need the rainfall to end the drought aren't getting it," added Richard Heim, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center. "I would expect the drought area to expand again" by next week since little rain is forecast in the Midwest in coming days.
He said there was no clear, scientific explanation for why the drought was lingering or estimate for how long it would last.
"What's driving the weather? It's kind of a car with no one at the steering wheel," Heim said. "None of the atmospheric indicators are really strong. A lot of them are tickling around the edges and fighting about who wants to be king of the hill, but none of them are dominant."
The biggest area of exceptional drought, the most severe of the five categories listed by the Drought Monitor, centers over the Great Plains. Virtually all of Nebraska is in a deep drought, with more than three-fourths in the worst stage. But Nebraska, along with the Dakotas to the north, could still see things get worse "in the near future," the USDA's Eric Luebehusen wrote in Wednesday's update.
The drought also has been intensifying in Kansas, the top U.S. producer of winter wheat. It also is entirely covered by drought, and the area in the worst stage rose nearly 4 percentage points to 34.5 percent as of Tuesday. Much of that increase was in southern Kansas, where rainfall has been 25 percent of normal over the past half year.
After a summer in which farmers watched helpless as their corn dried up in the heat and their soybeans became stunted, many are now worrying about their winter wheat.
It has come up at a rate on par with non-drought years, but the quality of the drop doesn't look good, according to the USDA. Nearly one-quarter of the winter wheat that germinated is in poor or very poor condition, an increase of 2 percentage points from the previous week and 9 percentage points worse than the same time in 2011. Forty-two percent of the plantings are described as in fair shape, the same as last week.
Farmers who might normally irrigate in such circumstances worry about low water levels in the rivers and reservoirs they use, and many are hoping for snow to ease the situation. But it would take a lot. About 20 inches of snow equals just an inch of actual water, and many areas have rain deficits of a foot or more.
11-22-2012 06:11 PM
Haven't heard much about the drought since the eastern cornbelt(Illinios,Indiana, Ohio) received big rains from the 2 hurricanes.
The rest of us haven't really received squat and are seriously dry!!
11-22-2012 11:11 PM - edited 11-22-2012 11:20 PM
i know YOU are taking notes Mizzou!..it is worsening, as in - trending beyond scope of the last 40 yrs....also, as in taking MORE than timely rains for 50% or so of belt.....i'm remembering a recent post which duly noted corn had ANY chance in parts of the belt because there was subsoil moisture down 8 -12 feet.
for that 50% - it's not there anymore. gee wiz, does anyone have grain charts or know what prices did during the dust bowl 30's??? sw?? giolucas??Hobby??
11-23-2012 01:52 AM
So assuming even the driest of profiles still has about 2 inches in it, which is not a stretch at all, remember 5 ft plus added up still has alittle something..........you need about 18 to 22 inches more.......so that means rain........about 4 to 5 inches instead of 2 to 3 inches in a month can make a hellva good crop on no profile........and even if its not perfect, if you can get 6 inches in July alone.......well that's like a royal flush......
So yes I know its dry, we are living it..........but
11-23-2012 07:51 AM
Now if your soil has poor WHC then it might seem like 33, but its because you have to over water to compensate for that........or if its all piss pounders and the infiltration rate is low then you might need higher amounts to compensate.........or high evop rates, there again compensation.......
But under most conditions......heck even in MO with marginal soils........if you give us 3 inches a month on an average profile and keep the temps under 100 we can grow fantastic corn.........
I have seen corn in ILL go 260 plus average on an 80 with less than 20 inches of water.......
Look, I am well aware of how dry it is.......and firmly believe we could get sideways real quick in 2013.......heck I think I was one of the first to post about the untold story in wheat out west this fall, course many ignore me till its media confirmed.....
But the fact remains........ask any producer.........good timely rains will trump a dry profile any day.........might not be a bumper crop.......but it will be a good one.........
11-23-2012 07:59 AM - edited 11-23-2012 08:00 AM
I get ya,
We are probably needing that extra 10 to compensate for the extra heat and wind.------------ makes sense.
Our lower organic matter soils can loose a foot of topsoil moisture to the wind some days. We have to put it back till the roots get deep.
Great soil fixes a lot of things.
11-23-2012 08:52 AM - edited 11-23-2012 09:00 AM
From out here, I would say worsening. Tyrone Okla elevator says 1/3 of normal rainfall in 2011 and same in 2012---about 6 inches.
(A big winter rain/snow event in winter of 09/10 made a big wheat crop in 2010, other than that the area has been in hard drought since at least 2007.) This year it moved north and east, and IMO just got bigger. Texas got better but not even close to a "normal" condition. (We have friends at Friendswood and San Antonio who say the south end improved a little.---Would you agree or correct that?)
corn charts------- only have the data given from Worst hard time book. I do have the heat and rainfall chart for Stevens county Ks for the years before 1951. But not grain prices.
One thing to note. Artificial stuff really distorted. Proped up prices in the early years to rebuilding in europe. Russia dumping grain. An unrelated economic colapse that depressed market even though supply dropped. later years had a new war in europe. Supply/demand goes out the window for a few years. ------------------------Present day-The haunting thing for me is the potential relationship to economic problems that are unrelated to climate.
Area folks literally sat on $2 wheat (elevators were full) until it was $0.30/bu (and couldn't sell it then, trying to keep livestock & family alive). The ones who made that goofy marketing decision survived to reap the benefit of a lot of good years in the future.
The first thimg I thought of when I went to Iowa and saw hobby's crop going into on farm storage as well as our own this year. There are lots of "what ifs" to consider.