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D4 exceptional drought expands to 4 of top 18 corn growing states

Total drought acreage in the lower 48 states declined this week to 50.11%. That means 234.3 million acres of crops are experiencing drought conditions, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System. 

Of the top 18 corn growing states, D4 exceptional drought is now present in four - Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado.


Record breaking temperatures over 100° F. and limited moisture challenged farmers in Colorado to start the month of August. 2022 is on track to be the 17th driest year in state history.

Map of high temperature in Colorado
Photo credit: Iowa Environmental Mesonet

Thursday’s drought report indicated conditions have intensified to D4, exceptional drought, in portions of Sedgwick and Phillips counties in the northeastern corner of the state.

D3, extreme drought, continues to cover more than 4% of Colorado, primarily in the extreme northeast and southwest corners. Symptoms include worsening pasture conditions and the development of large fires. Reservoirs are extremely low and mandatory water restrictions are in place for some areas.

Severe drought, D2, spans nearly 22% of the state. In the northeast, this area stretches from the Fort Collins area down to Colorado Springs. Portions of western and southeast Colorado also reported D2 drought.

Map of Colorado drought condition
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

Moderate drought, D1, covers over 31% of Colorado. This causes rangeland growth to be stunted and dryland crops to suffer.

Abnormally dry conditions are present in much of central Colorado, covering almost 34% of the state.

Less than 10% of Colorado is free of moisture stress.

Monday’s USDA Crop Progress Report showed topsoil moisture across Colorado was 23% very short, 30% short, 45% adequate, and 2% surplus. Subsoil moisture conditions were rated 28% very short, 24% short, 43% adequate, and 5% surplus.

The report indicated livestock are in mostly good condition among pastures that are holding up better than expected with the lack of moisture. Livestock ratings broke out to be 11% very poor, 11% poor, 12% fair, 47% good, and 19% excellent. Cattle death loss was 1% heavy, 86% average, and 13% light.

Pasture and range was rated 23% very poor, 16% poor, 25% fair, 29% good, and 7% excellent in Monday’s report.

Alfalfa hay was rated 5% very poor, 10% poor, 24% fair, 60% good, and 1% excellent by USDA. Second cutting harvest is 64% complete, significantly behind the five-year average of 81%. Last year at this time, second cutting harvest was 73% complete.

Third cutting alfalfa harvest is 16% complete, on pace with the five-year average. Last year at this time, only 11% of third cutting harvest was complete.

A growing percentage of Colorado corn is rated very poor to poor. This week’s corn condition was rated 10% very poor, 19% poor, 40% fair, 24% good, and 7% excellent.


D4 conditions expanded significantly in southwest Nebraska, and now cover nearly 5% of the state including portions of Deuel, Keith, Perkins, Chase, Lincoln, Hayes, Hitchcock, Frontier, and Willow counties. The National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) reported high levels of nitrate are found in corn in this area and municipality water supply is low.

The pockets of D3 extreme drought in northeast and southwestern Nebraska also expanded to cover more than 13% of the state. NDMC reported hay is scarce and expensive. Producers are selling cattle early and culling. Fish kills have claimed thousands of fish and drought-tolerant trees are dying in this region.

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

D2, severe drought, covers nearly 32% of the state.

Over 30% of Nebraska reported D1 moderate drought that has stunted pasture and crop growth.

About 15% of the state is abnormally dry, primarily focused in the southeast and northwest portions of the state.

A handful of counties in the southeast corner of the state reported no moisture stress in the latest drought report.

Nebraska topsoil moisture was rated 32% very short, 42% short, 26% adequate, and 0% surplus in Monday’s Crop Progress Report. Subsoil moisture supplies were rated 30% very short, 41% short, 29% adequate, and 0% surplus.

Corn condition in the state dropped to 11% very poor, 12% poor, 27% fair, 40% good, and 10% excellent. Last week 14% of the state's corn crop was in excellent shape. USDA says 91% of Nebraska corn is silking, 45% has reached dough, and 3% is dented.

Nebraska soybean condition plunged to 7% very poor, 11% poor, 28% fair, 44% good, and 10% excellent. Last week 13% of the state's soybean crop was in excellent shape. USDA says 95% of Nebraska soybeans are blooming and 66% are setting pods.

There’s no longer any excellent pasture in the state. USDA rated pasture and range condition 33% very poor, 28% poor, 30% fair, and 9% good on Monday.


The D4 exceptional drought area surged to double digits this week, and now covers 10% of Kansas. Portions of 18 western Kansas counties in this category are reporting wildfires and large dust storms, according to NDMC. All crops in the area are severely impacted, and some will not be harvested. Cracks in the ground indicate how desperate the area is for water.

D3 extreme drought is present in western and southeastern parts of the state. In those areas, cattle sales are high, emergency grazing is opened, and pasture conditions are poor, reports NDMC. Major locust infestations have been reported in the region, and populations of quail and pheasant are dropping.

Severe drought, D2, spans about a quarter of the state. Burn bans have been implemented and grass fires are on the rise. Crops are severely damaged, says the NDMC.

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

About 18% of Kansas reported D1 moderate drought conditions. 

Over 11% of Kansas, primarily in the northeast quarter of the state, reported abnormally dry conditions. Winter wheat planting is delayed in this area and irrigation demands have increased, according to NDMC.

The area free of moisture stress shrunk to about 16% of the state this week.

Kansas topsoil moisture supplies were rated 33% very short, 40% short, 27% adequate, and 0% surplus in Monday’s Crop Progress Report. Subsoil moisture supplies in Kansas rated 34% very short, 39% short, 27% adequate, and 0% surplus.

Corn condition in Kansas fell to 16% very poor, 22% poor, 32% fair, 24% good, and 6% excellent. Last week 36% of Kansas corn was rated good/excellent. USDA says 83% of Kansas corn is silking, 49% have reached dough, and 6% is dented.

Kansas soybean condition was recently rated 8% very poor, 16% poor, 35% fair, 35% good, and 6% excellent. Last week 46% of Kansas soybeans were rated good/excellent. USDA says soybeans blooming and setting pods are behind the state’s five-year average at 76% and 43%, respectively.


Texas is the fourth of 18 top corn growing states to report D4 exceptional drought conditions. The state is experiencing its 6th driest year on record, according to the NDMC. USDA reports the High and Low Plains, the Edwards Plateau, the Blacklands, and South Central Texas continue to be the driest parts of the state.

D4 conditions consume nearly 30% of the Lone Star State. In addition to agriculture, the seafood, forestry, and tourism industries are reporting significant financial losses, says the NDMC.

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

The area is experiencing extreme sensitivity to fire danger. Since the beginning of the year, Texas A&M Forest Service and local fire departments have responded to 7,906 wildfires for 619,866 acres across the state.

D3, extreme drought, spans 40% of the state. NDMC reported observations of large cracks in the soil and dust storms.

Severe drought, D2, covers about 19% of Texas. Soils are hard, hindering planting progress in these parts.

More than 8% of the state is suffering from D1, moderate drought. Early cattle sales have begun in these regions, says NDMC.

Abnormally dry conditions are present across more than 2% of Texas.

Of Texas’ 254 counties, only portions of 5, about 1% of the state, report no moisture stress.

Statewide, topsoil conditions were rated 69% very short, 14% short, 15% adequate, and 2% surplus. Subsoil moisture conditions were rated 67% very short, 20% short, 13% adequate, and 0% surplus.

Corn condition dropped to 20% very poor, 30% poor, 33% fair, 15% good, and 2% excellent. Last week corn condition in Texas was rated 20% good/excellent. USDA reported 95% of Texas corn has silked, 73% reached dough, 64% is dented, 55% is mature, and harvest is 16% complete.

Soybean condition plunged to 7% very poor, 28% poor, 45% fair, 19% good, and 1% excellent. Last week soybean condition in Texas was rated 30% good/excellent. USDA reported 88% of Texas soybeans were blooming, 70% were setting pods, and 20% were dropping leaves.

Range and pasture condition was rated 0% excellent, 1% good, 9% fair, 27% poor, and 63% very poor. USDA notes supplemental feeding continues across the state. Producers continue to liquidate their cattle due to the lack of quality pastureland.

NDMC confirmed needs of supplemental feed, nutrients, protein, and water for livestock have increased while other herds are being sold.

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