U.S. drought to spread in California, Florida
"More than 80 percent of pasture and range was rated very poor to poor in Kansas and Oklahoma, and it will take more than one storm to bring the range and pasture back," he said in a telephone interview.
However, there has been significant recovery from drought in the eastern corn belt - including much of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois - and there is a good chance for improvement in the upper Midwest as well, Rippey said.
Also on Thursday, USDA's chief economist forecast record U.S. corn and soybean crops this year, in part because of improved conditions in key states like Illinois.
"We have already seen some improvement in the eastern Corn Belt," USDA's Joseph Glauber said at the agency's annual agricultural outlook meeting.
The U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook is available online at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/seasonal_drought.html