The U.S. Department of Agriculture said drought continues to be a big focus across the west and parts of the southern Plains, with pasture and rangeland conditions in very poor/poor conditions now at 28%, up 2% from the prior week. However, 41% of the nation’s pasture and rangeland conditions are still in good/excellent condition.
States with the worst conditions currently are New Mexico, California, Oregon, Colorado and Texas, USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey reported.
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor showed that scattered showers and thunderstorms dotted the South, although some areas completely missed out on the rains, including central and southern Texas, central Oklahoma, northern Louisiana, central and northeastern Arkansas and western Tennessee. While the rains were welcome in the northern Texas and western Oklahoma panhandles, the spotty nature of the thunderstorms made for an interesting drought depiction, the monitor said.
“We continue to see a general drying trend in most areas of the country,” Rippey said. “Only 7% of the country was reporting surplus topsoil moisture on July 5, whereas 36% was reporting short/very short topsoil moisture.”
The very short/short rating increased by two points on July 5.
The biggest story agriculturally in the last week, Rippey said, was the fact that the U.S. had a week of hot, dry weather in the eastern Corn Belt.
There were very sharp week-over-week increases in the very short/short topsoil moisture rating from 40% to 71% in Michigan and an increase from 31% to 70% in Ohio.
The Drought Monitor relayed that much of the Midwest saw little or no rain during the past week, with significant totals limited to far western and southern sections and a swath of moderate rain from western Illinois southward into western Kentucky and Tennessee. Temperatures also averaged above normal in the upper Midwest and Great Lakes region. As a result, dryness and drought increased, with drought expanding into parts of Ohio, southeastern Michigan and the state's western Upper Peninsula, central Illinois, western and eastern Iowa and parts of western Missouri.
The overall percentage of U.S. experiencing drought ticked higher over the past week to 25.77%, up from 21.28% one month ago.