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Corn Belt reports worsening drought conditions as planting season approaches – Successful Farming

This week, states gearing up for planting in the Corn Belt saw no change or a worsening in conditions. 
Despite forecasted rain across the Midwest, much of which did not occur, states have been falling short on rainfall. Without that much-needed precipitation, soil moisture will be below levels needed for an ideal planting season. 
According to NASA’s Short-term Prediction and Transition Center, the Corn Belt has limited soil moisture available, with less available on the western edge and more becoming available to the east. Nebraska and South Dakota are in the 0 cm to 30 cm percentile, and Indiana and Ohio are in the 20 cm to 70 cm percentile of moisture in the soil, depending on the county. 

Map of soil moisture <!–
Photo credit: National Integrated Drought Information System

NASA ranks states based on how much moisture is available in their state relative to other states. The more moisture available, the higher the percentile score. This data is based on a 100 cm (40 inch) depth. Soil that is at about 10 cm (4 inches) is the most responsive to weather conditions, especially in the winter months. A 100 cm depth can give a better understanding of how much moisture is actually available for plants to use once they are rooted.
READ MORE: Plains drought to curb U.S. wheat harvest, adding to global supply worries

Map of Iowa for March 17 Drought Monitor <!–
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

For Kelly Garrett, a corn and soybean farmer in western Iowa, a typical March would be the end of his custom application business due to wet conditions. This year, because of the drought, his business has been able to continue well into the month.
“It’s nice to be able to continue to work, but I’m worried about putting my crop in because it’s just so dry,” says Garrett. “I’ve never seen it this dry.”
Garrett is planning to plant his soybeans in the coming week, something he says he has wanted to do but has never gotten the chance to because of how muddy and wet the fields have been in March.
While total drought acres saw no change in Iowa, about 2% of the state did report severe drought conditions, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor maps. In the western part of the state, drought conditions worsened in
Woodbury and Monona counties. Most counties in the state reported abnormally dry conditions, accounting for about 48% of the state. Overall, about 84% of the state reported suffering from abnormally dry conditions or worse.
Between March 8 and March 15, most of the state reported no precipitation. The southeast corner of the state reported some precipitation, ranging from .07 to .2 inches, and Wayne County in the south saw the most precipitation—.75 inches—in the seven-day period.
“The March outlook for precipitation had suggested wetter than average conditions for the state,” says Justin Glisan, state climatologist of Iowa. “With the exception of a swath from Des Moines into northeast Iowa, we’ve generally been below that expected average.”
Glisan says that he expected some deterioration in western Iowa, and with some rain in the forecast, sees a probability of some wetter conditions in the next week.

Map of Illinois for March 17 Drought Monitor <!–
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

Illinois saw no change in drought conditions this week. Severe drought conditions were reported in two northeastern counties, accounting for less than 1% of the state. Moderate drought conditions were reported across the northern counties, accounting for 12% of the state. Overall, 28% of the state reported abnormally dry conditions or worse.
Between March 8 and March 15, the state received an average of .15 inches of precipitation. McLean County, in the center of the state, reported .45 inches of precipitation in the seven-day period, the most precipitation reported from the state.

Map of Nebraska for March 17 Drought Monitor <!–
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

Nebraska’s conditions got more severe this week. All counties report dry conditions. Five counties in the center of the state—Valley, Greeley, Sherman, Howard, Wheeler, and Boone—report extreme drought conditions. About 45% of the state report extreme conditions and 52% report severe drought conditions. Just three counties at the eastern edge of the state report abnormally dry conditions: Cass, Sarpy, and Douglas. 
Between March 8 and March 15, most of the northeastern part of Nebraska reported no precipitation. The southwestern part of the state received an average of .2 inches in the seven-day period, with Franklin County receiving .4 inches.

Map of Indiana for March 17 Drought Monitor <!–
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

Indiana has remained drought-free this week. The state has not had any dry or drought warnings since October 5.
Between March 8 and March 15, the northern part of the state received an average of .3 inches, while the middle saw no precipitation. The southern tip of the state received .3 inches in the seven-day period.

Map of Minnesota for March 17 Drought Monitor <!–
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

The drought acreage in Minnesota had no change this week. A total of 34% of the state reported abnormally dry conditions. Many of the counties in the eastern part of the state report areas of moderate drought, about 13% of the state. Overall, 54% of the state reported abnormally dry conditions or worse.
Between March 8 and March 15, most of the state reported no precipitation. A small strip in the middle of the state received an average of .2 inches, with Traverse and Big Stone counties on the western edge receiving .3 inches in the seven-day period.

Map of Kansas for March 17 Drought Monitor <!–
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

All counties but Cherokee County in the southeast corner of the state in Kansas reported abnormally dry conditions or worse. Four counties in the southwest corner, Morton, Stanton, Stevens, and Grant, reported exceptional drought, accounting for 2% of the state. About 8% of the counties reported severe drought conditions, with conditions spreading to the center of the state. Overall, 99% of the state reported abnormally dry conditions or worse.
Between March 8 and March 15, the southwestern corner of Kansas reported no precipitation. The rest of the state reported an average of .3 inches, with the southeast corner containing Cherokee County reporting 3 inches in the seven-day period. 

Map of South Dakota for March 17 Drought Monitor <!–
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

South Dakota saw almost no change in drought conditions this week. About 44% of the state reported moderate drought conditions, and ten counties reported severe drought conditions, accounting for 22% of the state. The state has reported some level of severe drought conditions since July 28, 2020. Overall, 81% of the state reported abnormally dry conditions or worse.
Between March 8 and March 15, most of the state reported no precipitation. The northeastern corner of South Dakota had received the most precipitation, with .4 inches in the seven-day period.

Map of Ohio for March 17 Drought Monitor <!–
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

In the southwest part of the state, corn and soybean farmer Adam Vonderhaar says Ohio has the opposite issue than most other states have.
“We tend to be more on the other end of the spectrum and are sometimes too wet, which can affect planting.” says Vonderhaar. “This year specifically, there has been just a little more moisture than normal, but nothing too crazy.”
Planting conditions are looking good for April, when he plans to start planting, and Vonderhaar says he is on track for his plans, looking at the 14-day forecast. However, he also knows weather conditions are volatile and constantly changing. 
“There’s no reason to panic yet,” he says.
Ohio reported no drought conditions this week. The state has reported no drought conditions since the beginning of 2022 and has reported no worse than abnormally dry conditions since January 2020.
Between March 8 and March 15, the northwestern part of the state received no precipitation, with the rest of the state seeing an average of .75 inches. The northeastern corner of the state saw 6.5 inches in the seven-day period.

Map of Missouri for March 17 Drought Monitor <!–
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

Missouri’s drought acreage increased slightly this week, and conditions worsened in the northwest. About 34% of the state reported abnormally dry conditions, primarily from the northern counties, and 2% of the state reported moderate drought conditions. Overall, 36% of the state reported abnormally dry conditions or worse.
Between March 8 and March 15, the state saw varying levels of precipitation. Most of the state reported an average of .25 inches, with a band in the center of the state reporting no precipitation. Several counties in the western part of the state received from 4 to 7 inches over the seven-day period.
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