A dry October for the heartland? Maybe

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Drought continues its grip on the nation’s midsection, and though some areas may see relief in October, the same can’t be said for some of the nation’s biggest crop-producing states.

click image to zoomDrought MonitorThe Drought Monitor map released on Oct. 3, 2013. In the latest “Drought Monitor” report, the so-called “flash drought” refuses to budge from much of the Midwest.  More than one-third of Iowa is in severe drought, up slightly from last week’s report. Minnesota (9 percent), Wisconsin (17 percent), Illinois (16 percent) and Missouri (15 percent) also report unchanging levels of severe drought.

On the Plains, however, wet weather helped alleviate some of the drought. These rains couldn’t have come at a better time for producers.

“The rains fell during a prime time for soil moisture recharge as lower temperatures, minimal evaporation, little to no plant growth, and unfrozen soils allowed for ideal water infiltration,” David Miskus, this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor author, noted.

Less than 1 percent of South Dakota is in severe drought, compared to 4 percent last week. In Nebraska, a state dominated by drought for much of the last year, just 7 percent of the state remains in extreme drought or worse drought – down 4 percentage points from last week and 91 percentage points lower than in 2012.   

Rains also eased drought in Kansas. Currently, just 4 percent of the state is in extreme drought, down from 8 percent reported last week.

Further to the south, in Texas, conditions are showing signs of improvement. Even so, a panel of experts warns that central Texas will need to conserve water during a drought that refuses to go away, according to KXAN News.

"We're in a very intense drought one of the worst droughts central Texas has ever experienced and it's more than just a one-year drought, it's a multi-year drought," said Greg Meszaros, Director of Austin Water.  "We're all going to have to get an eye together and conserve water and work as a community to work through this drought until our lakes can refill." 

In the Pacific Northwest, heavy and moderate rains brought improvements to northwestern California, most of Oregon, southeastern Washington, northern and central Idaho, and southwestern Montana. Utah and Nevada showed net improvement. However, some states in the West – primarily California, Nevada and Idaho – still have a long way to go before drought is eradicated.

Click here to read the full report.

The Monthly Outlook for October shows drought removal from areas of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas, but other areas currently dealing with the drought aren’t as lucky. For parts of Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas, October may continue to be dry.

See the full Outlook here.

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