Despite some improvement in parts of the southern and eastern Midwest we are still looking at very concerning soil moisture conditions over large parts of the region. Improvement in soil moisture conditions has occurred during the past couple of months in central and southern Illinois and most of Indiana and Ohio where the percent of short to very short topsoil has dropped to below 50 percent from 85-100 percent in early August. However, drought conditions remain well established in Iowa and Nebraska and have expanded northward into Minnesota and the Dakotas where short to very short topsoils range from 85-98 percent. The Iowa state climatologist commented on the latest crop report that in Iowa 18 of the past 20 weeks have seen below normal rainfall for the state overall.
Clearly as we head into the fall season, drought conditions have intensified in the north-central US and diminished in the south-central US with much of the region having more soil moisture than they did 2 months ago with mostly adequate to surplus soil moisture in the Delta states. Even in parts of West Texas soil moisture conditions have not been this good since November of 2010 despite the fact that they are still running 60 percent short to very short. The hard red winter wheat areas of the southern plains will likely be a mixed bag this fall with drier weather the farther to the north you go, including some of the major growing areas of Kansas, while wetter conditions prevail to the south.
We are very concerned with the dryness in the north-central US and feel it will be a major issue going into the 2013 growing season. The likelihood of at least weak El Nino conditions through the fall and winter, and possibly even into spring, will just serve to support the dry pattern in the north-central US rather than help to break it down. All signs right now point to another potentially difficult growing season in the central US next year with the core of the drought farther to the north than what we saw in either 2011 or 2012. This would involve some major corn and soybean areas.
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