Dry weather tightens grip in Grain Belt

Market to Market | Clip
Jun 16, 2023 | 2 min

An outbreak of severe weather late in the week came at a grave price as deaths were reported in Texas and Florida.

The outbreak in the Texas Panhandle hits an area that up until recently was classified as the most severe form of drought.

Dry conditions remain in more than half of the country. This week the areas that grow the majority of America’s food and fiber experienced a decline in growing conditions.  

First dry, then heat rolled back into the Corn Belt this week. 

David Miller reports.



Ninety degree temperatures along with a lack of moisture is slowing the progression of the nation’s top corn producing state. 

Nationally, 57 percent of the corn is experiencing drought, a twelve point increase in a week and the highest since 2012 for this time period. 2023 conditions have deteriorated earlier in the growing season than in 2012, when the biggest impact was felt in July.  Indiana has deteriorated quickly from virtually no drought to D2 severity in just a month.

Dan Quinn, Purdue University Professor of Agronomy and Extension Corn Specialist: “Drought is so important, because it's going to impact corn, how much grain it's going to produce, how much biomass plant matter, it's going to produce. So many levels of drought throughout the season, could potentially be pretty detrimental to the to the corn crop around the state.”

Nationally, drought conditions actually decreased to 54.47. However, the biggest spots of concern are in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri where the largest areas of extreme and exceptional conditions have the tightest grip.  

The director of the Midwestern Regional Climate Center at Purdue University says annual amounts of rainfall may stay the same, but wet, in fall or spring causes its own set of challenges. 

Beth Hall, Director, Midwestern Regional Climate Center at Purdue University: “So we need to really think about when is the timing of the drought critical, because we could have a dry month. And that may not be a problem. But if it's at a critical time of vegetative development, this could be a disaster.”

Conditions deteriorated in soybean fields by 12 points this week.  

Early season stress will impact the process of getting nitrogen into the plant. Mid-season drought stresses vegetative growth.

Shaun Casteel, Purdue University Extension soybean agronomist: “If we continue to have a drought, these beings are going to abort those flowers, they're going to continue aborting those. And so if you have flowers that are boarding, you don't have the opportunities for pods to be produced and don't have the opportunity for seeds to be produced.” 

For Market to Market, I’m David Miller.

Contact: Paul.Yeager@iowapbs.org