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Drought chokehold tightens

Jeff Caldwell 08/02/2012 @ 10:00am Agricultural content creator and marketer.

The news isn't great, but there was at least a slight decline in the amount of the nation under drought conditions in this week's update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. Unfortunately, that's not much help to drought-ravaged farmers whose crops are facing a dire fate the longer the drought holds on.

Thursday's update of the Drought Monitor shows a 1% decline -- from 64% to 63% -- in the total area of the U.S. under drought conditions. But, that trimming came in the mid-Atlantic region while the Plains, Corn Belt and mid-South saw the drought's reach and severity grow over the last week...again.

Now, the southwest quarter of Indiana, the southern tip of Illinois and the western quarter of Kansas is in the most severe category of drought. About 2/3 of Illinois and 3/4 of Nebraska is under "extreme" drought.

Though the drought still clearly has a chokehold on much of corn and soybean country, there's reason to believe some areas could see the shades of red peel back over the next week, says MDA EarthSat Weather senior ag meteorologist Don Keeney. But, the relief likely won't make its way to the areas where the drought's been most painful.

"Notable rainfall is expected this week across the far southeastern Midwest into the eastern Delta and Southeast, which will likely improve conditions there a bit. The best improvements should be in KY, TN, northern MS, and northern AL. Some slight improvements are also expected in eastern ND and northern MN, with more notable improvements expected in the northern Plains and northwestern Midwest in the 6-10 day period," Keeney says. "However, conditions will likely continue to worsen across the central and southern Plains into the southwestern Midwest and northwestern Delta."

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