Much heavier than normal rain in June has brought drought relief to much of Kansas, even though most of the state is still in moderate to severe drought (85%) with about 10% in extreme drought, notably the southwest corner, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Western Kansas, where drought has been persistent for almost a decade, June brought heavy rains just as wheat harvest was getting started.
By July 13, there were still some fields that had not been cut as farmers struggled with persistently wet fields. Yields across the northwest were helped by the rain while in most of the state the moisture came too late for the wheat which was already challenged by freeze and drought.
Sad news about wheat however, is being quickly overcome by fall crops that are in excellent shape due to all the rain and last week's exceptionally cool temperatures.
The latest crop progress report from the Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service shows the corn crop at 62% good to excellent, sorghum at 64% good to excellent, soybeans at 65% good to excellent, sunflowers at 63% good to excellent, and cotton at 59% good to excellent.
Rains heavy enough to replenish pasture ponds also brought relief in June. But mid-July, stock water across the state was adequate in about 77% of ponds.
Looking forward, the three-month long-term forecast through Oct. 31 offers more good news for fall crops in Kansas – temperatures below normal and precipitation above normal, with drought across the entire state lessening to being eliminated entirely.
The forecast for the return of El Nino conditions in the equatorial Pacific Ocean is still favorable, with about a 70% chance for the remainder of the summer and an 80% chance moving into fall and winter. Conditions now remain neutral with an "El Nino watch."
The impact of El Nino on U.S. weather patterns depends on how strong it becomes, but are often associated with warmer and wetter than normal winters.