The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local news

September 13, 2013

Drought conditions again blanket Oklahoma

ENID, Okla. — Dry conditions worsened over much of Oklahoma in the past week.

According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report, which was released Thursday, no part of Oklahoma is listed as drought free.

In the previous week’s report, a large section of central and eastern Oklahoma — as well as the southern one-third of Garfield County — was listed as drought free.

Those areas now are listed as abnormally dry, the lowest drought classification on U.S. Drought Monitor.

All of Garfield, Grant, Alfalfa and Kingfisher counties are listed as abnormally dry, as are parts of Major, Woods and Blaine counties.

All of Woodward County is listed in moderate drought, the next step up from abnormally dry. Other parts of northwest Oklahoma listed as abnormally dry are the western half of Woods, Major and Blaine counties.

Some parts of northwest Oklahoma received rain Thursday and Friday. The Lahoma Mesonet weather-recording site received 0.06 inches, while the Fairview site recorded 0.04.

In Woods County, the Alva Mesonet site recorded 0.31 inches, while the May Ranch site on the border with Kansas received 1.19 inches.

The Breckinridge Mesonet site has not recorded any rain since 0.01 inches on Aug. 16.

Most of the Panhandle is listed in extreme drought, the second-worst category. The area of southwest Oklahoma listed in exceptional drought, the worst category, grew slightly.

Across the country, crop conditions are worsening as drought intensified in many areas of the Midwest and South.

However, U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a separate report Thursday the expected record corn harvest and third-largest soybean crop are on track, since areas that aren’t seeing as severe a drought will produce enough to make up for the driest regions.

Crops in states such as Kentucky and Tennessee look better than they did a month ago, the USDA said, while Iowa and Missouri are suffering from the heat.

“The fringes of the corn belt are producing enough to offset Iowa’s loss,” said Chad Hart, agriculture economist at Iowa State University.

This week’s national drought monitor, which tracked conditions from Sept. 3 to Tuesday, shows nearly 50.7 percent of the contiguous United States now is in moderate drought or worse, up from just over 50 percent the week before.

The report said in Iowa, the nation’s largest corn producer, severe drought spread to nearly 42 percent of the state — up from 32 percent a week ago. All but two of the state’s counties, both in east-central Iowa, are experiencing some level of drought or abnormally dry conditions.

Drought worsened in portions of Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Further south, conditions in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas declined. And more than three-quarters of the western United States remains in moderate drought or worse.

The USDA said about a third of corn and soybeans are in good or excellent condition in Iowa, down from more than half rated in those categories a month ago. In Nebraska, where drought increased in some areas, non-irrigated corn is in similar shape.

However, the USDA said corn production nationally is expected to be 13.8 billion, a record for the United States. The corn yield, or amount produced per acre, is expected to be 155.3 bushels per acre, which would be the highest average yield since 2009.

Higher corn yields for the Central Plains and across the South more than offset reductions for Iowa and North Dakota, the report said.

Farmers are expected to harvest 3.15 billion bushels of soybeans, the fourth largest on record.

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