Improving drought conditions allow planting to progress
Planting hasn't been progressing very quickly for Jim Faulstich. Both dry and wet conditions are to blame.
"After being so dry all winter and spring, we're behind in our area," says Faulstich, a corn and livestock producer in Highmore, South Dakota. "We were lucky enough to get rain a couple of times. It's been slowing us down, but as dry as we were, it's a good problem to have."
Several counties in the center of the state received no precipitation this past week. Highmore, located in Hyde County, received just under half an inch, according to Faulstich. Counties at the eastern edge of the state, like Deuel, Moody, and McCook counties, reported over 2.5 inches. The rest of the state averaged just under 1 inch of rain.
USDA noted that the state had four days suitable for fieldwork last week. Those days, combined with warmer temperatures, allowed producers to increase their corn planted by over 20%, with 31% total in the ground.
Faulstich is about 25% planted. With more rain on the horizon, which will likely keep him out of the field, he says it is difficult to predict when he will be done. However, if he can get in the field by the end of next week, Faulstich believes he can finish quickly.
South Dakota’s drought has also caused problems for Faulstich's livestock operation. He custom grazes yearling steers until July 1 and generally tries to pasture graze, so he doesn't have to supplement feed.
“Those cattle got shipped,” he says. “They didn't even go to grass. One of our goals is to not supplement feed at all, but we had to provide it this spring so we could give the grass a little more of a lead. We're probably going to end up selling some cows because I don't think we're going to have the production we need.”
South Dakota reported a slight intensification in drought conditions this week. Five counties in the center of the state are experiencing extreme conditions, accounting for 4% of the state. Eleven counties in the center and 12 in the southeast corner reported severe conditions, which is 19% of South Dakota. Overall, 73% is abnormally dry or worse.
Most of the counties in the center of the state received no precipitation this past week. Counties at the eastern edge, like Deuel, Moody, and McCook, received over 2.5 inches. The rest of the state averaged just under 1 inch of rain.
The May 16 Crop Progress Report showed South Dakota topsoil moisture levels were rated 8% very short, 20% short, 56% adequate, and 16% surplus. South Dakota subsoil moisture levels were rated 12% very short, 28% short, 54% adequate, and 6% surplus.
Below are what other states across the Corn Belt are experiencing.
Fewer acres in Minnesota reported drought conditions this week. Two counties in the northeastern corner that reported dry conditions now report none. No counties report any conditions worse than abnormally dry, accounting for just 3% of the state.
A strip of counties in the center of the state reported over five inches of rain this past week. Counties in the southeastern corner reported less than half an inch of precipitation, while most of that state reported an average of 1.75 inches.
Producers in Minnesota could get into their fields for two days this week. The USDA reported that 35% of Minnesota corn was planted, up 26% from the previous week.
Minnesota topsoil moisture levels were rated 0% very short, 1% short, 64% adequate, and 35% surplus, according to the Crop Progress Report. Minnesota subsoil moisture levels were rated 0% very short, 9% short, 64% adequate, and 27% surplus.
Conditions in the state intensified this week. Six counties in the southwest corner and five in the northeast are experiencing extreme conditions, for 7.5% of the state. About 40% of the state reported severe conditions. Just over 98% of Nebraska still has abnormally dry conditions or worse.
There were five days this past week suitable for fieldwork, and about 62% of corn has been planted, according to the latest Crop Progress Report. The five-year average is 77%.
Most of the western side of Nebraska reported no rain. The eastern half saw an average of half an inch. Several counties in the northeastern corner, including Thurston, Pierce, and Madison, received just under 2 inches, the most in the state.
Nebraska topsoil moisture levels were rated 10% very short, 27% short, 62% adequate, and 1% surplus, according to the Crop Progress Report. The subsoil levels were rated 18% very short, 42% short, 40% adequate, and 0% surplus.
Iowa’s drought saw no change this week. Only three counties are classified as severe drought – Woodbury, Monona, and Plymouth – accounting for just over 2% of the state. Abnormally dry acreage shrank to 26% of the state, primarily in western counties. Overall, 32% of Iowa reported abnormally dry conditions or worse.
Most of Iowa reported little to no precipitation this past week. A few counties around the edges of the state – Winneshiek, Lyon, Fremont, and Adair – reported just over an inch.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig says the warmer temperatures have helped in propelling planting progress forward this past week.
“Very hot temperatures and drier than normal conditions last week allowed farmers to make significant planting progress across much of Iowa,” says Secretary Naig. “As we look ahead, weather outlooks show promise in keeping planters rolling and farmers busy in the fields.”
With five days suitable for planting last week, corn planted jumped to 57%, an increase of 43% over the previous week.
According to the most recent Crop Progress report, Iowa topsoil moisture levels were rated 1% very short, 11% short, 81% adequate, and 7% surplus. Iowa subsoil moisture levels were rated 4% very short, 20% short, 70% adequate, and 6% surplus.
Illinois reported no change in drought conditions this week. Abnormally dry conditions account for just over 8.25% of the state, spanning the top two tiers of northern counties.
The southern counties saw the most precipitation this week. Randolph, Jackson, Union, and Perry counties reported just over 1 inch of rain. The northern half of the state reported little to no precipitation, though Knox and Fulton counties in the north also reported about 1 inch.
Illinois farmers were able to get into the field for about five days last week. The state moved closer to the 70% five-year average, with corn 55% planted.
For Illinois, the most recent Crop Progress Report had topsoil moisture levels rated 0% very short, 2% short, 81% adequate, and 17% surplus. Illinois subsoil moisture levels were rated 0% very short, 3% short, 82% adequate, and 15% surplus.
Drought intensity for the state increased this week. The exceptional conditions in the southwestern corner accounted for 4% of the state. About 22% of Kansas reports severe conditions. Just over 71% have abnormally dry conditions or worse.
Most counties reported no precipitation this week. Several counties on the eastern edge – Atichson, Jackson, Shawnee, Jefferson, and Leavenworth – received 6 inches of precipitation.
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With more than five days available to work in the field this week, corn planting rose to 60%, only 4% less than the five-year average, according to the USDA.
The agency also indicated Kansas topsoil moisture levels were rated 24% very short, 27% short, 45% adequate, and 4% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 27% very short, 33% short, 38% adequate, and 2% surplus.
Missouri saw no dry conditions this week. No counties currently report any drought conditions.
The state's northeastern corner had little to no precipitation. The southern half of the state reported an average of 1.5 inches, with Shannon and Texas counties reporting an average of 4 inches.
USDA reported five days last week that were suitable for fieldwork and 65% of corn was planted, about twice as much as the previous week.
The Crop Progress Report noted Missouri topsoil moisture levels were rated 0% very short, 1% short, 82% adequate, and 17% surplus. Missouri subsoil moisture levels were rated as 0% very short, 3% short, 86% adequate, and 11% surplus.
Indiana remained drought-free this week. The state has had no dry or drought warnings since October 5 of last year.
Most of the state saw about 1.25 inches of precipitation. On the eastern edge, Union, Fayette, Franklin, and Dearborn counties received the most precipitation, averaging just over 3 inches.
Indiana reported five days suitable for fieldwork. USDA says 40% of the state’s corn has been planted. The five-year average at this point is 54%.
The Crop Progress Report indicated Indiana topsoil moisture levels were rated 0% very short, 4% short, 77% adequate, and 19% surplus. Indiana subsoil levels were rated 1% very short, 4% short, 76% adequate, and 19% surplus.
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.
More than four days were suitable for fieldwork last week. USDA reported that 31% of corn has been planted in the state, 26% more than last week.
Aaron Wilson, a climate specialist at Ohio State University Extension, says the damp, cool soil conditions prevented many farmers from getting into the fields. This past week, the weather improved enough to get a good chunk of planting done.
"Last week, we had a dramatic turn in the weather with a five- to six-day opening," Wilson says. "Temperatures well into the 80s combined with breezy conditions allowed soils to dry out. Thus, we had a big bump in crop progress last week."
The state saw an average of .75 inches of precipitation last week. Counties in the northwestern corner – Putnam, Allen, and Hancock – reported 2.5 inches, the highest in the state.
Ohio topsoil moisture levels were rated 0% very short, 5% short, 71% adequate, and 24% surplus. Ohio subsoil moisture levels were rated 0% very short, 2% short, 72% adequate, and 26% surplus.