What the latest drought monitor revealed
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor, released October 12, offers some answers.
Iowa – most of the state saw one-class drought improvements except for the southeastern part of the state, which has received little rainfall over the past 5 to 6 weeks.
Minnesota – the southeast corner saw relief, but that was the only part of Minnesota that did.
Kansas – 1” to 3” of rainfall in the north and central part of the state contributed to one-category improvements.
Nebraska – some areas of D1 drought (moderate drought) were removed in the southeastern part of the state.
South Dakota – some small areas of D0 drought (abnormally dry) were trimmed following some rainfall in the eastern part of the state.
Looking ahead, more rain in the forecast means an opportunity for more drought removal, Artusa says.
For more information, visit droughtmonitor.unl.edu.
Historic patterns point to 2025 drought
Based on historic weather patterns, the Midwestern United States can expect the drought of the century around 2025, according to Elwynn Taylor, a climatologist for Iowa State University Extension, Ames.
Taylor spoke Wednesday in Moline at the 10th annual Upper Mississippi River Conference hosted by River Action Inc., a Davenport-based environmental organization.
While the Earth’s climate is changing, some weather cycles recorded by actual data or discerned by studying tree rings is remarkably consistent, Taylor said.
This happened in 1847, 1936 and will likely happen again around 2025, he said.
Taylor spoke in a session that also included a talk about the "Dead Zone" in the Gulf of Mexico — where we stand and how we’re doing.
The zone is caused by algal blooms that consume oxygen.
These basins are "musts," she said.
• Private entities are helping to push change and innovation, and Smith sees great potential in this.
"Farmers will listen to their fertilizer man," Smith said.
Extra honeybee feeding underway in Midwest, Upper Plains due to drought
According to Will Nissen, a beekeeper at Minot, N.D., there are 600,000 bee colonies in the state and nearly all are transported to California for almond pollination.
Stress from the lack of natural forage can be hard on bees and Nissen expects colony strength could be compromised.
While he normally brings 12,000 colonies a year to California for pollination in California, he may have 10,000 colonies due to losses.
Los Banos, Calif. beekeeper Gene Brandi says additional cotton acres planted in the San Joaquin Valley are helping feed bees remaining in California over the summer and fall months.
While many colonies are typically transported to the Midwest at that time to take advantage of native forage, the drought in some areas has caused some beekeepers to ship bees early to California.
Brandi, also the president of the American Beekeeping Federation, said it is hard to say how the drought in North Dakota and neighboring states will affect hive strength and the number of hives available for pollination early next year.
“Beekeepers are feeding protein patties and sugar to supplement the bees, but those aren’t as good as natural forage they would normally eat,” Brandi said.
Dennis vanEngelsdorp, president of the Bee Informed Partnership, a collaborative nationwide effort to understand honeybee decline, said one indication of hive strength is honey production.
When honey production is over in the late summer to early fall, more toxic materials are used to control Varroa mites.
Over the last four years, he says monitored mite levels have led to 4-5 treatments per year for control.
Midwest Crops Stressed by Worsening Drought Conditions
Midwest Crops Stressed by Worsening Drought Conditions.
Drought conditions are getting worse in several states, and extreme heat and weeks with little rain have begun to stress corn, soybeans, wheat and livestock in some areas.
The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor recently released by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says nearly 11 percent of the continental United States is in moderate drought or worse.
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That’s up from 6 percent last week.
All of central and western North Dakota is in some stage of drought, with most areas in severe or extreme drought.
The federal government has declared numerous North Dakota counties to be disaster areas, paving the way for federal aid.
Drought, Prices Weaken Rural Midwest Bankers’ Outlook
Drought, Prices Weaken Rural Midwest Bankers’ Outlook.
After rising to growth neutral for two straight months, the Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index fell below the 50.0 thresholds for July, according to the latest monthly survey of bank CEOs in 10 Midwestern states.
The index, which ranges between 0 and 100, tumbled to 40.7, its lowest level since November of last year, and down from 50.0 in June.
Organizer Ernie Goss says drought conditions and weak grain prices are to blame, as they have attributed negatively to economic conditions.
For the month, the July farmland and ranchland-price index sank to 36.6 from June’s 40.0.
The July farm equipment-sales index fell to 20.0 from 26.2 in June.
Borrowing by farmers was very strong for July as the loan-volume index climbed to 81.5, the second highest reading on record, and up from 78.3 in June.
Finally, the confidence index, which reflects expectations for the economy six months out, slumped to a weak 38.4 from 48.9 in June, indicating a continued pessimistic outlook among bankers.
Source: NAFB News Service
California and National Drought Summary for June 20, 2017
Unfortunately, little or no rain fell on most of the northern third of the High Plains and southern Plains, drying out conditions in Texas and Oklahoma and worsening the flash drought in eastern Montana and the western Dakotas.
In the Southwest, although June is climatologically dry and warm, extreme heat late in the period, subnormal precipitation during the past 60-days, and some impacts was enough to expand D0 in Utah, central Arizona, and southern New Mexico.
On Hawaii’s Big Island, some deterioration was made as field reports indicated worse conditions than expected while scattered showers in southwestern Alaska were not enough to improve low stream flow levels, thus D0 and D1 was slightly expanded there.
Northeast Scattered showers and thunderstorms (1-3 inches) associated with a cold front finally fell on the last day of the period after a relatively dry and warm June 13-18.
In northeastern Mississippi and northwestern Alabama, moderate to heavy (2-3 inches) rains along the southern edges of the D0-D1 area were enough to trim away some of the drought and dryness; however, northern sections recorded under an inch, and D0 slightly expanded into extreme southern Tennessee with 60-day deficiencies of 2-4 inches.
Some areas in the South did see moderate to heavy (1.5-4 inches) rains (eastern sections of Kansas and Oklahoma, northeastern Texas, southern and central Mississippi, and west-central Tennessee), and this resulted in some D0 removal in southeastern Kansas, northeastern and southeastern Oklahoma, and northeastern Texas.
Moderate to heavy rains (1.5-3 inches) also fell on northern Minnesota (see High Plains), improving some of the D0-D1 by 1-category as April 1-June 20 precipitation was close to or above normal in all but the northwestern section.
High Plains While significant rains (1.5-3 inches) fell across northern and eastern North Dakota, northeastern South Dakota, and northern Minnesota (see Midwest) and provided some relief, little or no rain worsened conditions across eastern Montana, western and southern North Dakota, and the western half of South Dakota.
With May-July normally the wettest time of the year in the northern High Plains (some areas typically receive half to two-thirds of their ANNUAL precipitation), a lack of adequate late spring and early summer rainfall can impact the region for the rest of the year.
Similar to northeastern Montana, southwestern North Dakota and northern South Dakota have seen the lowest precipitation as compared to normal since April, with deficits of 3-6 inches at 60-days and 4-8 inches at 6-months.
Quick read: Drought hits Midwest while cattle producers find ways to adapt
Quick read: Drought hits Midwest while cattle producers find ways to adapt.
As of Thursday, most of northeastern South Dakota is considered to be in a moderate drought, according to the drought monitor index.
"So it’s a pretty impressive Top 10 stat there.
That kind of puts into perspective how dry this month has been.
North Dakota is getting pretty bad too," he said.
"Meanwhile, across eastern South Dakota, they’re much above average and into Minnesota.
So it’s a very tight radiant there."
Lueck said that, historically, the area has about 7.25 inches of precipitation by now.
So we are 4 inches below average," he said.
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An opportunity for corn growers
STEWARDSHIP PAYS: A nitrogen management credit program is being offered to corn growers in the northern corn growing region of the Midwest.
The pilot project is designed to reward farmers who increase nitrogen efficiency without hurting yield.
Corn growers who recently started using management practices that optimize nitrogen stewardship may qualify to be paid under a new type of credit program from USDA.
It will pay qualifying producers to test a protocol designed to reduce nitrous oxide emissions.
The new nitrogen management program is important because: • A successful pilot could create a new revenue stream for producers through nitrogen efficiency credits for the California market.
“This is an excellent opportunity for Iowa corn farmers, especially as spring planting season is upon us,” says Ben Gleason, sustainable program manager for the Iowa Corn Growers Association.
“Corn growers may be eligible to be part of this pilot project tracking nitrogen management practices to reduce nitrous oxide emissions.
Qualifying farmers who sign an agreement with Climate Smart Group and provide basic nitrogen application records will be paid $500 or more for participating in the pilot project.
Why nitrogen management?
How the program works: • Producers must first determine if they are eligible to meet the general requirements for the project.