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Five top corn growing states report 100% moisture stress

Harvest progress is rolling on around the country as drought conditions continue to intensify. Nearly 50% of the U.S. is in drought this week. Five of the top 18 corn growing states are reporting 100% drought stress. D4 exceptional drought is present in seven top corn producing states.


The Indiana drought map, released Thursday, is covered in yellow and light orange, indicating statewide abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions as corn and soybean harvest continues.

Maps show D1 moderate drought conditions surged, now consuming more than 29% of the state’s acres. The National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) reports creek and pond levels are low in the region. Farmers have started supplemental feed for livestock.

Map of Indiana drought conditions
U.S. Drought Monitor

Monday’s Crop Progress Report showed a decline in soil moisture levels. Topsoil moisture was rated 19% very short, 44% short, 37% adequate, and 0% surplus. Subsoil moisture ratings were 18% very short, 43% short, 39% adequate, and 0% surplus.

The low subsoil moisture is concerning to Indiana director of agriculture Bruce Kettler and farmers within the state. There are predictions there won’t be heavy moisture through the winter, Kettler says. “If you go into next spring with really dry subsoil, you have no reserves. I don’t want to be too pessimistic, but I think it should cause us to pause and think about the plan if we do go into spring after a dry winter.”

While wrapping up harvest is top of mind this time of year, thinking ahead is wise. “I want to watch that soil moisture closely. Does it affect if I’m doing some tillage? Does it affect my purchases of inputs?” Be prepared to make changes to seed selection or yield goals, Kettler adds.

Dry conditions this fall may lead Indiana farmers to plant fewer acres of winter wheat or cover crops. Kettler spoke with a farmer recently who decided to “back off a few acres [of cover crops] this year just because of the dryness. They knew you could put them in the ground, but if they don’t germinate, they’re not doing much good,” says Kettler.

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


For the second week in a row 100% of Iowa is facing moisture stress of some degree. The last time this happened was August 2013. So far, 2022 is the 18th driest year on record for the state.

D1 moderate drought expanded significantly in Thursday’s report, and covers just under half of the Hawkeye State. NDMC reports pond levels have declined in this region.

D2 moderate drought covers more than 27% of the state, including a large pocket of southern Iowa. 

More than 7% of Iowa is reporting D3 extreme drought. NDMC says pastures are dry here. Statewide, pasture condition was rated 13% very poor, 24% poor, 34% fair, 26% good, and 3% excellent on Monday.

For the seventh week in a row, a small portion of Woodbury County reported D4 exceptional drought.

The most recent Crop Progress Report showed statewide topsoil moisture conditions declined to 21% very short, 40% short, 38% adequate, and 1% surplus. Subsoil moisture conditions fell to 23% very short, 41% short, 36% adequate, and 0% surplus.

Of Iowa’s 99 counties, 12 have USDA disaster designations.

Iowa secretary of agriculture Mike Naig is optimistic precipitation may be coming. “Weather outlooks through the end of month are indicating potential shifts toward wetter conditions and warmer temperatures,” he said Monday.

“We need many months of above-average precipitation to put a dent in the longer-term precipitation deficits,” tweeted state climatologist Justin Glisan.

Farmers who are done harvesting corn and soybeans may be thinking about fall nitrogen applications. Iowa State University extension field agronomist Meaghan Anderson warns producers this year’s dry conditions may present a challenge.

“Dry soils can be a significant concern for anhydrous ammonia application due to the potential for loss at time of application,” Anderson writes in a recent blog. “It may be possible to knife the ammonia in slightly deeper, perhaps 8 inch depth instead of 6 inch depth, to find moisture and avoid losses. Making sure your equipment is set up to seal the injection track and trap ammonia is important to reduce losses as well. If soils are very dry and/or cloddy, it may be impossible to apply anhydrous ammonia and keep it retained by the soil. In that scenario, waiting until rainfall replenishes topsoil moisture is the best option, although there is risk this won’t happen before soils freeze and applications may need to occur in the spring.”

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


Missouri is also suffering from statewide moisture stress for the second consecutive week. All five shades of yellow, orange, and red are present on the maps released Thursday.

More than 17% of the Show Me State reported abnormally dry conditions.

D1 moderate drought spans 32% of the state.

At just over 36%, the largest portion of Missouri’s acres are rated D2 severe drought.

D3 extreme drought covers more than 11% of Missouri.

The D4 exceptional drought climbed to more than 2% of the state and covers portions of six counties in southwest Missouri.

Monday’s Crop Progress Report rated topsoil moisture condition 38% very short, 41% short, 21% adequate, and 0% surplus. Subsoil moisture condition was rated 33% very short, 42% short, 25% adequate, and 0% surplus.

Of Missouri’s 114 counties, 37 have USDA disaster designations.

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


Nebraska has been dealing with statewide drought since the beginning of September.

Abnormally dry conditions cover almost 2% of Nebraska and are present in portions of the bottom tier of southeastern counties.

D1 moderate drought spans more than 17% of the state.

At over 38%, the largest portion of Nebraska’s acres are rated D2 severe drought.

D3 extreme drought covers nearly 31% of the state.

D4 exceptional drought persists in more than 11% of Nebraska.

Monday’s Crop Progress Report rated topsoil moisture supplies 46% very short, 36% short, 18% adequate, and 0% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies were rated 47% very short, 37% short, 16% adequate, and 0% surplus.

Of Nebraska’s 93 counties, 67 have USDA disaster designations.

Map of South Dakota drought monitor
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

South Dakota

Dry conditions in northern South Dakota intensified this week, filling the few remaining white counties with yellow and light orange in Thursday’s report.

Abnormally dry conditions cover more than 30% of South Dakota.

At over 40%, the largest portion of South Dakota’s acres are rated D1 moderate drought.

D2 severe drought covers more than 17% of the state.

D3 extreme drought spans nearly 11% of South Dakota.

For the fourth straight week D4 exceptional drought was reported in portions of five southeastern counties accounting for more than 1% of the state’s acres.

Monday’s Crop Progress Report rated topsoil moisture supplies 39% very short, 41% short, 19% adequate, and 1% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 35% very short, 44% short, 20% adequate, and 1% surplus.

Of South Dakota’s 66 counties, 26 have USDA disaster designations.

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