For the third consecutive week, the drought deepened across Kansas, plunging more than 63% of the state in the worst drought category, D-4 or exceptional drought, on the U.S. Drought Monitor. Last week, slightly under 40% was in that category.
The change in Kansas came as a much wider swath of western Missouri was also engulfed in exceptionall drought, pushing the state total up to 35% after 14% last week.
The worsening conditions in Missouri and Kansas came as Illinois, Indiana and Iowa saw a slight easing of drought conditions.
A chance of rain and cooler temperatures have been the norm for Kansas for the last week. A cooling in the 90s –and even 80s on a couple of days – have been welcome. However, the moisture accompanying two major cold fronts has been miniscule, with most of the state recording somewhere between a trace and 0.3 inches of rain.
According to the long-term Palmer Index of drought, much of Kansas needs at least 12 to 15 inches of rain to end the drought. That kind of rainfall does not seem to be materializing as most of the rainfall seen in the state has come from late afternoon, pop-up thunderstorms, which tend to be very scattered.
Kansas farmers are deeply concerned about getting moisture in time to get a 2013 winter wheat crop planted. Winter wheat can be planted as late as the end of October and still be up and going before freeze in a normal year.
Last year, there was virtually no winter and wheat planted extremely late still had time to do significant tillering.
All of Kansas remains in the severe, extreme and exceptional categories on the drought monitor, with only a chunk of north central Kansas escaping the worst designation. Ninety percent of the state is either in extreme or exceptional drought.