Continued US drought could cause problems for winter crops

Wheat a particular focus for farmers, according to USDA

Overall drought conditions in the U.S. lower 48 states have held steady over the seven-day period ending October 2, with one-fifth of the total land area in extreme or exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor’s weekly update of its drought map released on October 4, leading to worries that winter crops may be affected.

Conditions have actually worsened in Iowa and Kansas. About 75 percent of Iowa is enduring extreme or exceptional drought, up 10 percentage points from the previous week. Just over 93.25 percent of Kansas is in extreme or exceptional drought, an increase of roughly 5 percentage points. While corn and soybeans are already in the midst of being harvested, winter wheat may be at risk if the current weather continues.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that emergence of winter wheat is lagging, given the extremely dry conditions that could keep that rotational crop from properly germinating. Just five percent of that crop has emerged in South Dakota, down from 32 percent over the previous five years. Similar issues have been reported in Nebraska, Colorado, Montana and Oregon.