Drought Continues to Intensify Across the Nation

Mar 19, 2021  | 3 min  | Ep4631

And I’m John Torpy. A week with early spring rains and record snowfalls did little to ease worries over increasing drought conditions across several parts of the U.S.
According the U.S. Drought Monitor, abnormally dry areas are expanding across the Northern Plains, while the Southwest continues to see exceptional drought conditions that have a hold on that region since the fall of 2020.
Dr. Justin Glissan, State Climatologist of Iowa: “You can have droughts that exists for, you know, three or four months or a season like we saw in 2018, 2019. Um, or you can go multi-year, um, uh, uh, droughts. And that's what we're seeing in the desert Southwest, um, Colorado, Utah, Nevada.”
Dr. Justin Glisan, the State Climatologist of Iowa, noted dry conditions have been building across the country, but well saturated ground in the Midwest during the spring of 2018 and 2019 helped hide the visible signs of an impending drought.
Dr. Justin Glissan, State Climatologist of Iowa: “So last year we had an excellent planting window. In fact, early planting window, getting into April and May. We were planted, we were all ready to go. We had ample subsoil moisture. So as we started to get into flash drought conditions in May, into June, those subsoil moisture profiles were able to tide us over as we did start to dry out.”
In the Spring Outlook Report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, released this week, forecasters predict drought conditions are likely to persist and expand throughout the spring season, which could become a problem for farmers preparing to plant.
Dr. Dennis Todey, Director, USDA Midwest Climate Hub: “If you are a row crop farmer and your soil moisture is in pretty decent shape, uh, maybe scale back, you know, maybe scale back some planting, planting rates or fertilizer rates or some things like that. Uh, if your soils are dry, definitely think very seriously about that, uh, that, you know, maybe changing some yield targets, definitely looking at your marketing strategy.”
Dr. Todey added increasing drought conditions that persisted throughout the winter in the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest could impact cattle producer feed needs, most notably in locations across the Dakotas.
Dr. Dennis Todey, Director, USDA Midwest Climate Hub: “If you're a livestock person, range land, uh, look at what your range land situation is like and make some very serious decisions and do some very serious thinking early on before you get caught and you're having to make short-term decisions that could hurt you even worse.”
For Market to Market, I’m John Torpy

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