The extreme drought conditions that have plagued western Oklahoma and much of Texas this year have spread north into southern and western Kansas to put additional stress on struggling wheat that is about a month from harvest, according to Thursday’s update by the U.S. Drought Monitor.
“Kansas continues to set the southern edge of the intense drought that seems to be waking up and pushing rapidly north along with warmer temperatures. A large expansion of D3 (extreme drought) now covers nearly the entire southern half of Kansas and D4 (exceptional drought) is slowly pushing north out of Oklahoma,” said Thursday’s summary on U.S. Drought Monitor website.
The drought expansion comes at a bad time for Kansas wheat, which needs rain to prevent further deterioration. Last week, crop scouts estimated the state’s drought-damaged crop will produce 260.7 million bushels, the smallest since 1996’s 255.2 million, providing rain arrives soon.
“The heat and dryness this week has certainly been poorly timed for heading wheat in the Southern Plains, particularly for south-central Kansas, central/southwest Oklahoma, and west-central Texas,” said Joel Widenor, meteorologist with Commodity Weather Group. “While the driest area may be trimmed slightly by a combination of shower systems today, early next week, and in the 11- to 15- day (outlook) , most of the southwest half of the belt still misses out.”
Drought conditions expanded in Nebraska, an important corn and wheat producer, with extreme drought creeping into the southwest corner, according to the Drought Monitor. Much of the western third of the state was in severe drought, with moderate drought elsewhere there.
Extreme to exceptional drought expanded in western Oklahoma and much of central Texas including the panhandle.
Midwest in better shape
Conditions are better in the Midwest where corn and soybean planting is under way, with areas of moderate drought limited to western Missouri and Iowa.
“The dryness has been welcomed for planting activities, but moisture will be needed soon in order to help sustain crops through the coming summer. The cooler-than-normal temperatures have also been helping offset the seasonal dryness across most of the western reaches of the region,” said the Drought Monitor summary.
Drought conditions were largely unchanged in California, with exceptional drought remaining in southwestern areas and extreme drought from there to the Oregon border.