Drought threatens winter wheat planting

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The drought that devastated many crops this summer is not finished damaging agricultural crops yet. Now the drought is expanding northward and impacting winter wheat planting in the Dakotas and other states.

September was the driest in 118 years of U.S. record keeping for North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana and was the third-driest September for Nebraska and Oregon, said Mark Svoboda, a climatologist with the University of Nebraska's National Drought Mitigation Center, Reuters reported.

Bone-dry soils in these states have farmers questioning whether to plant a new winter wheat crop, Svoboda told Reuters.

"We had a brutally dry September. There is a lot of concern now about no moisture," Svoboda said. "A lot of folks are holding off and wondering if they should even plant winter wheat and plant spring wheat instead."

Fully 69 percent of the U.S. winter wheat area is suffering from some level of drought, Svoboda said.

Drought has been taking a toll on the High Plains. According to the Drought Monitor, the High Plains, which includes Nebraska and the Dakotas, had severe or worse drought levels for more than 87 percent of the region, which is a slight increase from the prior week.

Drought levels in Kansas, another top wheat growing state, slightly improved from the week prior. But a large percentage of the state remains in the two top categories of drought.


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