Drought shifting, effects lingering

One of the authors of the U.S. Drought Monitor says the drought in the Corn Belt has really been more than a spring/summer occurrence.

“Going back, in hindsight, we can almost track the beginning of some of this dryness a year ago. The ideal harvesting conditions we had in the fall of 2011and the mild winter that followed really was the start, the basis of the drought we see today,” says climatologist Brian Fuchs with the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.

While the drought has eased up in the Eastern and parts of the Central Corn Belt, the worst of it has moved west where Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma are in exceptional drought. The dry soil is causing problems for winter wheat planting.

In the Eastern and Central Corn Belt areas that have gotten recent rains, Fuchs says there are lingering problems. While the top soil in many places has been recharged, the subsoil has not been.

Fuchs tells Brownfield Ag News, “Even in the areas that have shown improvement, if we hit another dry spell in the spring and summer of 2013 and as those plants send down into deeper layers of the soil with their roots, there may not be a recharge or replenishment of that moisture that far down, so, it’s something to really watch.”

And, Fuchs says the rain has done little to alleviate the poor pasture conditions caused by the drought.

“Even with some of the rain that we’re seeing, there has been some late green-up but not enough forage for grazing or to get anything, really, out of it for this year,” adds Fuchs.

Fuchs says the lack of deep soil moisture is “scary.” He says they’ll be closely watching the storm track this fall, in the next few weeks, to see how the precipitation pattern will be.

AUDIO: Brian Fuchs (11:00 mp3)

U.S. Drought Monitor

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