Drought Conditions Ease in the Western Corn Belt

April 11, 2013 05:11 AM

According to the National Drought Monitor, 60.17% of the Midwest is drought-free, which compares to 55.23% of the region last week and 64.51% last year. The eastern part of the Corn Belt is largely drought-free, while the western Belt still has wide stretches of drought. Iowa, for instance, still has drought conditions in 83.17% of the state, including 20.65% in the extreme drought category.

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The monitor notes that the western Corn Belt benefited from light to moderate precip with heavier amounts in excess of 2 inches in some areas. As a result, D0 was removed in eastern Iowa, northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. East-central Iowa some some areas improve from D1 to D0 and central Iowa saw D2 conditions improve to D1. Missouri also saw slight improvement in the drought profile.

"NWS frost tubes showed that the last of the frozen soils in northern and central Iowa had thawed, and that some farm tiles were running in eastern Iowa and northern Illinois, indicating more subsoil moisture than previously thought. Many USGS stream flows were in the upper 75th percentile," the monitor details.

The upper Midwest saw no changes in the drought profile as the soils had ice in lower soil layers and snow remains on the ground in North Dakota and the northern halves of both Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The north-central Plains also benefited from soaking, 1.5 to 3-inch rains last week, especially in the region from southwest Nebraska northeastward to southeastern South Dakota. According to Nebraska's State Climatologist Al Dutcher, "all soil moisture sites in this area have hit 25% for the four-foot layer, and 20% for the top five feet. By next week it will become apparent how deep the moisture made it into the profile. Based upon past experiences, it is likely that field capacity will be reached in the top 2 feet of the profile at most locations. But due to the prolonged and severe drought, there is no deep moisture, but moisture is available to support planting and early emergence." The monitor continues that it will take much more moisture for further drought condition improvement.

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