Washington, D.C. – Drought is a weather phenomenon plaguing agriculture since civilizations began farming and ranching as organized ways to feed themselves. Drought that affects growing or grazing quality affects about a third of the nation’s counties each year.
The drought of 2012 has rapidly expanded and intensified, covering 64% of the contiguous United States – according to the U.S. Drought Monitor – by July 17th. Three months ago, that figure stood at 37%, and at the beginning of the year, only 28% of the lower 48 states had drought coverage.
Even more dramatic change in drought coverage has occurred in the Midwest. The latest Drought Monitor indicated that 88% of the U.S. corn and 87% of the soybeans were within an area experiencing drought. As recently as early June, less than 20% of the corn and soybeans were considered to be in a drought area.
Outlook: Across the central Plains and the middle Mississippi Valley, searing, triple-digit heat and dry conditions will persist through much of next week. Meanwhile, scattered showers may provide limited and localized relief to drought-stressed crops and pastures across the northern and eastern Corn Belt. However, high temperatures will return to much of the Midwest for at least part of next week, following several days of favorably cooler weather in the central and eastern Corn Belt.