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Dry conditions lessen across the Corn Belt

Despite having the most intense areas of drought in the Corn Belt, some Kansas farmers are struggling to find a break in the weather long enough to wrap up the planting season. 

"We are 100% done with corn and about 20% complete with soybeans," says Jacquelyne Leffler, who farms in the eastern half of the state. "Typically we would be finished at this point, but we keep getting hit with rain. We recently came off a 24-hour cycle where we got over two inches. It'll be at least another week before we can get back in the fields."

Leffler says a few of her cornfields have developed wet holes and may need replanting.

Kansas remained divided on rainfall this past week. The eastern half of the state saw higher totals as a storm system swept through the state’s middle. Counties in the storm's path – like Ellsworth, Rice, McPherson, and Saline – received an average of six inches of precipitation. The state's western side noted less precipitation, with most counties reporting less than an inch. Some counties, like Cheyenne, received almost no precipitation.

Leffler raises corn, soybeans, wheat, and cattle with her dad, Bill. The pair double-crop their wheat acres, so soybeans are able to be planted until the Fourth of July, but the ideal time for planting is now. Despite the time left, Leffler says she feels behind on soybean planting because of the constant rain. With crop insurance deadlines approaching, she is pushing her time limit.

Despite only having three days available to do field work, Kansas farmers are 2% ahead of the five-year average for planting, with 87% of corn in the ground.

With fields along the Neosho River, overflow from weeks of precipitation is a concern for the Lefflers. They have already had to deal with completely submerged fields once this season, and the threat of flooding loomed once again late last week.

"I haven't even looked at the extended forecast," Leffler says. "We are saturated. We planted 110 acres on Memorial Day before we got rained out again. Planting conditions weren't great, but at some point, you have to get in the field and hope for the best."

Drought acreage for the state decreased this week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The extreme conditions on the state's eastern side reduced, accounting for 16% of Kansas, 5% less than the previous week. About 13% of Kansas reports severe conditions. Just over 66% have abnormally dry conditions or worse. 

Map of drought conditions for Kansas for June 2
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

The agency also indicated Kansas topsoil moisture levels were rated 18% very short, 19% short, 51% adequate, and 12% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 22% very short, 24% short, 48% adequate, and 6% surplus.

Below are what other states across the Corn Belt are experiencing.

OHIO

Map of drought conditions for Ohio for June 2
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

Three states east, Adam Vonderhaar, a corn and soybean farmer in southwest Ohio, says he is about halfway through corn and soybean planting. He, too, has been delayed by rain, with only four days in May dry enough for him to plant.

"It's been a very wet spring," Vonderhaar says. "When the rain comes, it comes all at once, causing a lot of soil erosion." 

Spring is already a vulnerable time for soil, and fields that erode run the risk of going unplanted, lowering yields.

About two days were suitable for fieldwork last week. USDA reported that 72% of corn had been planted in the state, up 20% from the previous week.

"We have had consistent rain without enough time to dry out," Vonderhaar says. "I don't want to speak for all of Ohio, but I think Darke County is completely planted. I also think farmers in northwest Ohio are getting back into fields, which should move Ohio's progress along."

Ohio has not reported any drought conditions since the beginning of 2022, and conditions remain unchanged. The state has reported no worse than abnormally dry conditions since January 2020. 

The state saw an average of one and a half inches of precipitation last week. In the western half of the state, Shelby County reported three inches, the highest in the state. On the opposite side of the state, Jefferson County received almost zero precipitation. 

Ohio topsoil moisture levels were rated 0% very short, 1% short, 52% adequate, and 47% surplus. Ohio subsoil moisture levels were rated 0% very short, 2% short, 52% adequate, and 46% surplus.

IOWA

Map of drought conditions for Iowa for June 2
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

Iowa's drought reported a slight decrease in acreage last week. Only three counties are classified as severe drought – Woodbury, Monona, and Plymouth – accounting for just over 2% of the state. On the eastern side of the state, abnormally dry conditions receded by 5%, totaling 20% of counties. Overall, 27% of Iowa reported abnormally dry conditions or worse.

The state reported an average of one inch of precipitation in the past week. In the north, Palo Alto county reported over four inches of rain, the most of the week. On the eastern side, five counties – Iowa, Benton, Poweshiek, Jasper, and Mahaska – reported under half an inch.

"Recent rainfall across the state has helped to push the crop along as farmers are approaching the end of planting," says Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. "Short-term outlooks, through the first week of June, show better chances of rainfall paired with cooler temperatures."

With four days suitable for planting last week, corn planted jumped to 94%, on track with the five-year average.

According to the Crop Progress report released on May 31, Iowa topsoil moisture levels were rated 1% very short, 10% short, 80% adequate, and 9% surplus. Iowa subsoil moisture levels were rated 2% very short, 18% short, 74% adequate, and 6% surplus.

ILLINOIS

Map of drought conditions for Illinois for June 2
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

Illinois reported an increase in drought acreage this week. Abnormally dry conditions have expanded to four additional counties in the south – Saline, Pope, Williamson, and Johnson. Overall, 8% of Illinois reported abnormally dry conditions or worse.

The southern half of the state reported an average of less than half an inch this past week. Areas in the northern half of the state reported an average of an inch and a half, with Stephenson County on the very northern edge reporting almost two and a half inches.

Illinois farmers could get into the field for about four days last week. Corn planting progressed to 89% planted, pulling ahead of the five-year average of 84%.

The most recent ​​Crop Progress Report had topsoil moisture levels rated 0% very short, 4% short, 72% adequate, and 24% surplus for Illinois. Illinois subsoil moisture levels were rated 0% very short, 3% short, 78% adequate, and 19% surplus.

INDIANA

Map of drought conditions for Indiana for June 2
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

Indiana’s abnormally dry conditions expanded in the north last week. Six northern counties – Jasper, Pulaski, Starke, White, Fulton, and Cass – reported dry conditions, accounting for 4% of the state.

Most of the state received about an inch and a half of precipitation. On the northern edge, St. Joseph, Marshall, and Elkhart counties received the least rain, reporting less than half an inch. Daviess, Martin, and Dubois counties received the most precipitation in the south, averaging over three inches.

Indiana reported three days suitable for fieldwork. USDA says 81% of the state's corn has been planted. The five-year average at this point is 76%. 

The Crop Progress Report indicated Indiana topsoil moisture levels were rated 0% very short, 3% short, 68% adequate, and 29% surplus. Indiana subsoil levels were rated 1% very short, 4% short, 70% adequate, and 25% surplus.

MINNESOTA

Map of drought conditions for Minnesota for June 2
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

Minnesota’s drought shrunk last week. Only four counties in the south reported abnormally dry conditions – Faribault, Freeborn, Martin, and Jackson – accounting for under 2% of the state.

Most of Minnesota reported an average of an inch and a half of precipitation. Traverse County on the western edge reported about four inches, the week's highest total. Itasca County was close behind, reported just under four inches.

Producers in Minnesota could get into their fields for five days this week. The USDA reported that 82% of Minnesota corn was planted, just 10% behind the five-year average. 

According to the Crop Progress Report, Minnesota topsoil moisture levels were rated 0% very short, 2% short, 70% adequate, and 28% surplus. Minnesota subsoil moisture levels were rated 0% very short, 5% short, 71% adequate, and 24% surplus.

MISSOURI

Map of drought conditions for Missouri for June 2
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

Missouri saw no dry conditions this week. No counties currently report any drought conditions.

The state's northern corner – Atichison County – reported the most precipitation, at three and a half inches. The southern corner of the state received the least precipitation, with Mississippi, Scott, and New Madrid counties reporting under a quarter of an inch.

USDA reported three days last week suitable for fieldwork with 91% of corn planted, 1% behind the five-year average.

The Crop Progress Report noted Missouri topsoil moisture levels were rated 0% very short, 1% short, 76% adequate, and 23% surplus. Missouri subsoil moisture levels were rated as 0% very short, 2% short, 85% adequate, and 13% surplus.

NEBRASKA

Map of drought conditions for Nebraska for June 2
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

Nebraska experienced a decrease in drought intensity. Extreme conditions reduced by 3%, now accounting for 5% of counties in the middle of the state. About 43% of the state reported moderate conditions. Ninety-four percent of Nebraska still has abnormally dry conditions or worse.

Most of Nebraska reported an average of three-quarters of an inch of precipitation. The state's southeastern corner reported the most rain, with Cass, Otoe, Lancaster, and Saline counties reporting around four inches. The western corner received the least precipitation; Kimball and Banner counties reported under half an inch.

There were four days this past week suitable for fieldwork, and about 95% of corn has been planted, according to the latest Crop Progress Report. The state remains 1% ahead of the 5-year average.

Nebraska topsoil moisture levels were rated 12% very short, 26% short, 59% adequate, and 3% surplus, according to the Crop Progress Report. The subsoil levels were rated 17% very short, 37% short, 46% adequate, and 0% surplus.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Map of drought conditions for South Dakota for June 2
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

South Dakota reported a lessening in drought intensity last week. Sixteen counties reported severe conditions, which is 13% of South Dakota. 2% of the state is experiencing extreme conditions. Overall, 69% is abnormally dry or worse.

Most of the state's western side received an average of three-quarters of an inch this past week. Lawrence County was an exception, reporting more than three inches. The eastern side of the state reported an average of two inches, with Brown County in the north reporting over three inches.

USDA noted that the state had more than five days suitable for fieldwork last week. Those days allowed producers to get 86% of their corn in the ground, 4% more than the five-year average. 

The May 31 Crop Progress Report showed South Dakota topsoil moisture levels were rated 9% very short, 21% short, 56% adequate, and 14% surplus. South Dakota subsoil moisture levels were rated 11% very short, 26% short, 58% adequate, and 5% surplus.

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