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All top corn growing states officially face moisture stress

For the first time this summer, the U.S. Drought Monitor indicated moisture stress in each of the top 18 corn growing states. Colorful maps released Thursday, July 21 show expanding and intensifying drought conditions in many areas as a record-setting heat wave sweeps the country.

Iowa

Iowans in Plymouth, Cherokee, and Woodbury counties continue to face extreme drought. 

Iowa secretary of agriculture Mike Naig is not optimistic farmers will see relief any time soon. “As county fair season ramps up, outlooks show hot and dry conditions will develop over the next week as limited chances of rain will increase the likelihood of drought expansion in northwest Iowa,” he said Monday.

Joel DeJong, Iowa State Extension field agronomist, expressed concern for crops in this northwestern region on Tuesday. “On Monday afternoon, there was a lot of leaf rolling in many fields, particularly in the D3, extreme drought, area,” he said. “We are presently similar to the amount of water available to the crop that we had at this time last year, but this forecast is much warmer, which means daily demand will be higher than we observed last year.”

This area suffered a derecho at the beginning of the month. Corn has since goose-necked itself back upright, but likely won’t tolerate heat stress as well.

Maps indicated D2, severe drought, is present in parts of 12 northwestern Iowa counties and covers just under 5% of the state. That is no change from the report released July 14.

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

Persistent moderate drought, D1, was reported in 16 northwestern counties. A new pocket of moderate drought was reported in the southeastern counties of Jefferson, Washington, Keokuk, and Wapello. In total, moderate drought covers nearly 8% of Iowa.

Abnormally dry conditions disappeared from the east central part of the state in the latest report, but expanded across several southern counties. In total, abnormally dry conditions cover about 32% of the state.

Kelly Garrett farms in Crawford county where it's abnormally dry. “The heat is a big concern right now as our corn is just starting to pollinate. We are adding Intergize and Shield-X with our Veltyma, to help mitigate heat stress during pollination,” he said Monday, adding the next couple of weeks will be critical to yield.

Just over half the state reported no moisture stress.

Monday’s USDA Crop Progress Report indicated top soil moisture condition in Iowa were 6% very short, 24% short, 66% adequate, and 4% surplus. Subsoil moisture condition was 8% very short, 23% short, 65% adequate, and 4% surplus.

Illinois

Illinois drought conditions shrank in size and intensity between July 12 and 19, according to the latest drought monitor maps. Many areas in northern and southern Illinois reported several inches of precipitation during the 7-day period. More than 4 inches of rain fell in the Clay county area. Farmers in Jo Daviess, Caroll, and Lee counties saw totals around 3 inches.

Illinois precipitation map
Photo credit: Iowa Environmental Mesonet

D2, severe drought area dropped about 1% and now covers about 2% of the state. D2 conditions persist in much of Champaign county and small portions of Vermilion, Edgar, Douglas, and Piatt counties in the east central part of the state.

Dirk Rice and his son, Matt, raise corn, soybeans, and a little wheat right in the middle of the D2 region. “For three weeks in June, corn was rolled so tight through the middle of the day that we had to wonder if we were growing corn or pineapples,” he says. “Lawns were getting brown and memories of 2012 were creeping in.”

Through July, most of Rice's fields have had at least 2-3 inches of rain and crop condition has improved, but there's no reserve moisture. Cracks in the soil remain after a recent 1 inch rain.

“We are hoping the rain was enough to get our corn pollinated, but we won't know that for awhile,” he says.

Sarah and Brandon Hastings also grow corn and soybeans in Champaign county. Since June, their farm has only had about 1 inch of rain. “Somehow our crops are hanging in,” she says. “When we did catch a tenth or two of rain, the crop grew about a foot each time. We even have some indeterminate corn varieties putting on a second ear.”

Hastings points out a silver lining of low moisture - little disease. The family is optimistic their crops will achieve average yields.

D1, moderate drought area, fell from 16% of the state to under 10% in the latest report.

About 25% of Illinois is abnormally dry.

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

Approximately 64% of the state reported no moisture stress.

The Crop Progress Report released July 18 indicated top soil moisture condition in Illinois was 11% very short, 17% short, 67% adequate, and 5% surplus. Subsoil moisture condition was 11% very short, 18% short, 69% adequate, and 2% surplus.

Nebraska

D3, extreme drought, covers parts of 18 counties, or about 10% of Nebraska. At this point in the growing season last year, there was no extreme drought in the state.

About 34% of the state is in D2, severe drought. That’s a 2% increase from the week prior. Only 2% of the state was dealing with severe drought at this time last year.

D1, moderate drought, is also widespread in Nebraska, covering 32% of the state.

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

Over 11% of Nebraska is abnormally dry.

Only the southeast corner, less than 14% of the state, reported no moisture stress. One year ago 32% of the state was drought free.

The July 18 Crop Progress Report indicated top soil moisture condition in Nebraska was 22% very short, 37% short, 39% adequate, and 2% surplus. Subsoil moisture condition was 22% very short, 38% short, 39% adequate, 1% surplus.

Minnesota

Dry conditions intensified and expanded in the southern half of Minnesota, according to the latest drought monitor data.

A new pocket of D2, severe drought, covers less than 2% of Minnesota and is challenging farmers near the Twin Cities in parts of Dakota, Scott, Carver, Sibley, and Hennepin counties.

A wider circle of D1, moderate drought, now stretches from the Minnesota-Wisconsin border to Redwood county in the southwest corner, covering about 6% of the state.

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

Abnormally dry conditions prevail across 21% of Minnesota’s acres.

All of northern Minnesota, and most of the southern tier of counties reported no moisture stress. A year ago, the entire state was facing drought stress of some degree.

The July 18 Crop Progress Report indicated top soil moisture condition in Minnesota was 5% very short, 19% short, 69% adequate, and 7% surplus. Subsoil moisture condition was 3% very short, 14% short, 75% adequate, and 8% surplus.

Indiana

Up to 3.7 inches of precipitation between July 12 and 19 brought relief to some parts of Indiana, reducing the size and intensity of drought conditions.

Map of Indiana precipitation
Photo credit: Iowa Environmental Mesonet

D1, moderate drought, area plunged from 44% last week to 18% in the most recent report.

Abnormally dry conditions still cover more than 50% of the state.

A narrow strip of counties in southern Indiana, and the eastern edge along the Indiana-Ohio border are free of moisture stress.

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

The July 18 Crop Progress Report indicated top soil moisture condition in Indiana was 20% very short, 31% short, 44% adequate, and 5% surplus. Subsoil moisture condition was 19% very short, 33% short, 45% adequate, 3% surplus.
 

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