The Southern Plains saw drought relief over the last week, according to the latest Drought Monitor released Thursday. Still, much of the rain arrived too late to rescue winter wheat, though rangeland, pastures, and summer crops greatly benefited from the soil moisture improvements.
In Texas, rangeland and pastures rated in very poor to poor condition by the Department of Agriculture improved from 51 to 36 percent during the week ending May 21. On the same date, topsoil moisture was rated less than one-third very short to short in Texas and Oklahoma. Still, despite abundant showers and thunderstorms, pockets of extreme to exceptional drought persisted in western and central Texas and across the northwestern half of Oklahoma.
Short-term Midwestern dryness has begun to intensify, especially along an axis from the lower Missouri Valley into the lower Great Lakes region. This led to the introduction or expansion of several areas of abnormal dryness (D0). In addition, moderate to severe drought (D1 to D2) was added or expanded in a few spots across Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. The dry weather continued to support a rapid pace of agricultural fieldwork, including corn and soybean planting. Within a few weeks, however, those crops will need moisture for proper emergence and growth. On May 21, the U.S. Department of Agriculture rated topsoil moisture more than one-third very short to short in Michigan (40%) and Missouri (38%).
By May 21, Nebraska led the U.S. with rangeland and pastures rated 55% very poor to poor, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. On the same date, Nebraska led the High Plains with topsoil moisture rated 58% very short to short, followed by Kansas at 52% and South Dakota at 36%. Much of the recent rainfall has bypassed eastern sections of South Dakota and Nebraska, with some increase in drought coverage noted in the latter.
U.S. Drought Monitor