The continuing drought over much of the western half of the United States spread modestly in the past week, now covering about 45% of lower 48 states. The drought covered 44% of the continental U.S. in the prior week, and more 75% of the lower 48 a year ago.
Rain in the Southeast and West brought some relief in the past week, and expected rains in the East this week will help limit the spread of the drought. The Central and Southern Plains and the Lower Mississippi River Valley are the areas that have been hardest hit. Lack of rain is drying up stream flows and even some cacti are showing signs of turning brown. The data is available from the U.S. Drought Monitor at the University of Nebraska.
Rain has been falling in the Southwest but has had little beneficial impact on the persistent drought in New Mexico and eastern Arizona.
Of the major agricultural states, Nebraska appears to be in the worst condition, with about 88% of the state experiencing some level of drought conditions. Last year, amazingly, was not as dry, with about 75% of the state seeing drought conditions.
Drought conditions also have spread to about 75% of Kansas. As bad as that is, last year was much worse, with 98% of the state experiencing some level of drought.
Temperatures are expected to be above normal west of the Continental Divide and from the Midwest to the Northeast. New Mexico and the Southeast are expecting lower temperatures.
Corn prices have risen a bit since last week when they were around $5.30 a bushel. Prices are hovering around $5.50 a bushel today.