Warmer- and drier-than-normal weather in May reduced topsoil moisture from the central and southern Plains into the Mid-South and lower Midwest. In those areas, the warm, dry conditions hastened winter wheat maturation at the expense of some production potential, but promoted an early start to the harvest season. In addition, diminishing moisture reserves led to an increase in stress on pastures and rain-fed summer crops.
In contrast, beneficial showers eased or eradicated dry conditions across portions of the northern Plains, upper Midwest, and Atlantic Coast States, stabilizing crop and pasture conditions. Some of the heaviest rain fell late in the month, when a series of cold fronts traversed the Nation's Northern Tier and Tropical Storm Beryl soaked the southern Atlantic region. Another area that received much-needed rainfall during May was the Rio Grande Valley and neighboring areas in parts of New Mexico and southern and western Texas.
Meanwhile, a period of warm, dry weather in California and the Northwest allowed for accelerated planting and crop development, following a slow start to the growing season. Cool, showery conditions returned, however, late in the month. Elsewhere, hot, dry weather in the Southwest maintained severe stress on rangeland and pastures, triggered an early end to the snow-melt season, and fostered the spread of wildfires.
In fact, near- to above-normal temperatures covered the Nation, except for some slightly cooler-than-normal conditions from the Pacific Northwest to the northern High Plains. Monthly temperatures averaged at least 5 degrees Fahrenheit above normal at several Southwestern locations and in a broad swath stretching from the central and southern Plains into the Midwestern and northern Mid-Atlantic States.
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