By Karl Plume
(Reuters) – The worst U.S. drought in 55 years intensified over the past week as above-normal temperatures and scant rainfall parched corn and soybean crops across the Midwest and central Plains, a report from climate experts said on Thursday.
Nearly two-thirds of the contiguous United States was under some level of drought as of July 31, more than a fifth of it classified as extreme drought or worse, according to the Drought Monitor, a weekly report compiled by U.S. climate experts.
CHICAGO (Reuters) – The midday weather model suggested a slightly wetter pattern for the U.S. Midwest where corn and soybean crops have withered under an extensive drought, but rainfall will be only scattered and light, agricultural meteorologists forecast Tuesday.
“There’s going to be rain, but it’s just not going to be heavy enough to dramatically improve the situation in very many areas. There’s no general soaking over the next two weeks,” said Andy Karst of World Weather Inc.
OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) – The most extensive drought in five decades has left corn plants withered and dying, and crop yields in the largest producing states will be much lower than experts have forecast, scouts said on Friday as they completed a U.S. Midwest crop tour.
The MDA EarthSat crop tour estimated a corn yield of a 118 bushels per acre after surveying 49 fields in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. That was sharply lower than a U.S. Agriculture Department estimate earlier this month of a yield of 146 bpa and a Reuters poll this week of 130.8 bpa.
CHICAGO/SCRANTON, Iowa, July 27 (Reuters) – Temperatures
heading north of 100 degrees Fahrenheit and scarce rain
portended another blistering weekend for much of the U.S.
Midwest, where the most extensive drought since 1956 is
devastating crops, evaporating rivers, and threatening to push
world food prices higher.
Violent storms brought rain to the extreme eastern portions
of the U.S. corn belt in Ohio on Thursday night, but moisture
was sparse further west.
SCRANTON, Iowa, July 27 (Reuters) – Corn yield potential
appears highly variable in west-central Iowa, mirroring the ups
and downs of production prospects in the central and eastern
areas of the No. 1 corn and soy growing state, scouts on a U.S.
Midwest crop tour said Friday.
Some plants suffering under the worst drought in 56 years
were withered and dying, standing only 4 to 5 feet (1 to 1.5
m)tall with thin stalks and small ears.
TRAER, Iowa, July 26 (Reuters) – Corn yield prospects in
central and east-central Iowa were highly variable as drought
and periods of extreme heat this summer diminished production
potential, scouts on a crop tour said Thursday.
Plants were tall and mostly green, although leaves on some
plants were turning brown as the worst U.S. Midwest drought in
five decades expanded from harder hit states such as Illinois
and Indiana, scouts on the MDA EarthSat July Crop Tour observed.
CORALVILLE, Illinois (Reuters) – The corn crop in central and western Illinois showed lower yield potential than last year as the worst U.S. drought in decades eroded grain production in the country’s second largest corn growing state, scouts on a crop tour reported on Wednesday.
Corn in the typically high production areas of the state was under clear stress from temperatures that reached the triple-digits Fahrenheit at midweek, with leaves on many plants dried and brittle.
, July 25 (Reuters) – The corn crop in two
counties in central Illinois showed yield potential better than
last year despite the worst drought in decades in the U.S.
Midwest, scouts on a crop tour reported on Wednesday.
It was the first time since the tour began in Ohio on Monday
that scouts had come across fields where the yields were above
those of a year ago.
, July 24 (Reuters) – On the western edge of
Indiana, the Putnam County corn crop shows the effects of the
worst U.S. drought in 56 years — the plants failed to form ears
and will likely go unharvested, the second day of a U.S. Midwest
crop tour found on Tuesday.
The area has so far received none to just a quarter of its
normal annual rainfall. Because of the heat and dry conditions,
plants are stunted at around 3 feet, leaves are curled and brown
at the edges and stalks are brown at the bottom.
CHICAGO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Grain prices pushed to record highs on Thursday as scattered rains in Midwest did little to douse fears that the worst drought in half a century will end soon or relieve worries around the world about higher food prices.
Government forecasters did not rule out that the drought in the U.S. heartland could last past October, continuing what has been the hottest half-year on record.