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'Exceptional' drought grows

The severity of the drought of 2012 took a major step for the worse over the last week, and now most of the state of Indiana is under "extreme" drought stress, according to Thursday's update of the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Now, the drought touches every corner of the Corn Belt, Plains and mid-South; about 2/3 of the state of Kansas is under extreme drought, with one pocket in the western part of the state under "exceptional" drought conditions. A pocket in central Arkansas has entered the exceptional drought stage, while most of Iowa and Illinois are now under severe drought stress, Thursday's map shows.


This week's update is no surprise to farmers who say this week could see the end of their 2012 corn crop. Despite the fact rainfall did move through part of the Corn Belt Thursday morning, it's likely too little too late for those fields in the driest areas.

"Walked into a couple of fields on Sunday -- in some good dirt in one field, had approximately 1 small ear for every 10 stalks -- just didn't put on ears," says Marketing Talk veteran contributor WCMO. "Of course, there's good areas and bad areas. It's really difficult to get a decent handle on what the corn might yield due to the variation within the fields. Plus, corn in this area is anything from soft dough to black layer to toasted. Rain won't help much anymore, and the heat is making it die too quickly for decent kernel size or test weight. What does look fairly good from the road, doesn't look so good when you walk through it."

The most severe drought conditions look to be the grim reaper for those areas' corn, farmers there say. "Been out working in the shop finishing up the coffin for my 2012 corn crop," says Crop Talk frequent contributor farmandfire. "I think by Friday of this week, Mother Nature is going to come by and put the last nail in."

Adds Crop Talk senior contributor and southern Michigan/northern Indiana farmer Blacksandfarmer: "I think the funeral procession started at my farm and will be working its way to your corn shortly."

Relief likely won't come in the next few days, and a week from now, look for the Drought Monitor to show the drought's increased in severity and scope, says MDA EarthSat Weather senior ag meteorologist Donald Keeney.

"Extreme heat and dryness will persist across the central and western Midwest, central and southern Plains, and northern Delta, which will allow conditions there to fall even further," Keeney says. "The 6-10 day outlook offers more improvement potential for the northern Plains into the far northern and eastern Midwest; however, once again dry and very warm conditions should further increase drought conditions in the southwestern Midwest, northern Delta, and south-central Plains."

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