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Incoming heat wave won't help the drought

The U.S. Drought Monitor, released Thursday, July 15, noted that small improvements were reported in certain parts of the region in instances where heavy rain fell, including parts of eastern South Dakota, northeastern Nebraska, and some areas of Montana. But given that the rains were spotty, the overall picture in many states continues to deteriorate.

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While some parts of Iowa and Wisconsin and into the Corn Belt and the Great Lakes regions picked up significant moisture lately, not everyone was so lucky, said WDAY meteorologist Jesse Ritka.

Most parts of South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota and northern Iowa, all of which have experienced continuing drought conditions, didn't get much in the way of relief, she said.

"That soil moisture percentage has really dropped," she said.

The U.S. Drought Monitor, released Thursday, July 15, noted that small improvements were reported in certain parts of the region in instances where heavy rain fell, including parts of eastern South Dakota, northeastern Nebraska, and some areas of Montana. But given that the rains were spotty, the overall picture in many states continues to deteriorate.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz requested U.S. Department of Agriculture assistance from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday , particularly for livestock producers. Walz's letter to Vilsack was in support of an implementation plan to allow emergency haying and grazing on eligible Conservation Reserve Program acres in Minnesota counties experiencing severe drought or greater drought conditions.

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"The urgency of this request cannot be overstated. The quality of forage on CRP lands continues to deteriorate under drought conditions and delaying access until Aug. 1 will eliminate the advantages of the resource," the letter said. "If producers cannot get quality feed to their livestock, they will have no other options than to sell animals or purchase hay to haul in."

Ritka said an incoming heat wave with no rain expected will not help the situation, especially in the Dakotas and Minnesota.

"That means the drought will be worsening," she said.

Here is a state-by-state look at this week’s drought monitor:

Iowa: Iowa's drought conditions improved significantly in the past week. Severe drought, moderate drought and abnormally dry conditions all decreased. The state has 29.08% of land now considered out of all drought categories, compared to 17.11% last week.

Minnesota: Minnesota's drought picture worsened since last week, with 3.95% of the state now considered in extreme drought. Severe drought also increased from 39.7% to 48.47%, while moderate drought decreased about the same amount, from 53.25% to 45.79%. More than 98% of the state is considered in drought conditions, with 1.79% considered abnormally dry.

Montana: Montana saw a big jump in extreme drought conditions, with the percentage going from 25.9% to 36.42%. The entire state is abnormally dry or worse, with 91.44% considered in moderate drought or worse, compared to 84.34% last week.

Nebraska: Nebraska experienced slight improvements in moderate, severe and extreme drought conditions. The overall percentage of the state considered abnormally dry or worse decreased slightly, too, from 68.93% to 68.28%.

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North Dakota: North Dakota saw slight improvements this week, with land in exceptional drought dropping from 11.78% to 7.77%. Little else changed, though, as the entire state is considered in at least moderate drought, with more than 90% considered in severe drought or worse.

South Dakota: South Dakota had a slight increase in extreme drought conditions, from 17.82% to 19.58%. Severe drought dropped about 5 points, while moderate drought increased by more than 3. More than 90% of the state is considered abnormally dry or worse.

Wisconsin: A small amount of land in Wisconsin was shifted from moderate drought to severe drought, but overall the drought scene in Wisconsin has improved slightly. The state has 41.41% of land not in any drought category, compared to 36.04% last week.

Related Topics: AGRICULTUREWEATHERDROUGHT
Jenny Schlecht is the editor of Agweek and Sugarbeet Grower Magazine. She lives on a farm and ranch near Medina, North Dakota, with her husband and two daughters. You can reach her at jschlecht@agweek.com or 701-595-0425.
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