A broken precipitation pattern moving across the Central Plains this week made widespread drought improvements difficult to justify, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, though small improvements centered mostly on Texas and other wheat producing areas may be too little too late for the crop.
Patches of 4 to 7 inches of precipitation were reported in southeast South Dakota and adjacent Minnesota and from east-central through northeastern Oklahoma and adjacent Kansas, though light precipitation fell over western Kansas, Colorado and regions southeastward.
Light precipitation amounting to less than half of normal for the last 30 days pushed 90-day moisture deficits into the 4 to 8 inch range in Southeastern Oklahoma, prompting a significant eastward expansion of D1 to D3 conditions.
Winter wheat continued to suffer in the region, and prospects for improvement look bleak. The National Ag Statistics Service reported 62% of the crop in Kansas and 78% in Oklahoma was in poor or very poor condition this week.
Nationally, 44% of the crop in the primary growing areas is in poor or very poor condition. Both the topsoil and subsoil are substantially short of moisture in many areas across the central Plains, Tinker reports. Deficient topsoil moisture covers 55% of Nebraska, 60% of Kansas, and 68% of Oklahoma. Insufficient subsoil moisture is even more widespread, covering 75%, 75%, and 84% of these states, respectively.
Related: Weekly Wheat Review
It was a wet week across eastern Texas and the northeastern half of the Texas Gulf Coast and adjacent Louisiana. Rainfall totals exceeded 2 inches throughout this region, and were much greater in some areas. Drought Monitor classification was improved in most areas receiving more than 3 inches of rain.
In contrast, most of the central and western two-thirds of Texas was dry, with only scattered reports of a few tenths of an inch of rain.
Despite recent rains in some areas, crops continue to struggle and soil moisture shortages cover a large proportion of Texas, says Tinker. Last week, 64% of Texas winter wheat was in poor or very poor condition.
Drought continues in the West, were conditions were unchanged for the week, except for a small bit of coastal area in the far Northwest.
Moving into the Midwest, the area from central Missouri northward across north-central and northeast Missouri, southeast Iowa, and part of northwestern Illinois saw light to locally moderate rain.
Little or no precipitation, however, fell on a small swath from west-central Illinois westward into extreme southeast Iowa just north of Missouri.
In most areas, the Drought Monitor assessment was unchanged, but there were spots of deterioration near northeast Missouri and some areas in northwest Illinois and northeast Iowa.
Large portions of both Missouri and Iowa currently report short or very short subsoil moisture (44% and 31% of those states, respectively) while deficient topsoil moisture is not as widespread (30% and 16%), according to NASS.
Source: Richard Tinker, NOAA, U.S. Drought Monitor