More than half (51%) of the continental United States is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought conditions, mainly affecting crops in the Midwest, and this trend is likely to continue through much of the 2013 spring planting season. This is according to the annual spring outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The annual spring outlook attributes continued drought condition to above-average expected national temperatures paired with “drier than normal” conditions in much of the West, the Rockies, parts of the Southwest, and much of Texas, all of which is threatening crop production significantly. Additional issues persist as the Red River of the North, between eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, and the Souris River in North Dakota have the potential for moderate and major flooding (areas part of the wheat belt).
The worry of extended drought conditions for farmers lies in the inability to have a buffer of crops to fall back on. In January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) declared 597 counties across 14 states natural disaster areas as a result of the ongoing drought that threatened the winter wheat crop.
Laura Furgione, deputy director of NOAA's National Weather Service, says, “This outlook reminds us of the climate diversity and weather extremes we experience in North America, where one state prepares for flooding while neighboring states are parched, with no drought relief in sight. We produce this outlook to help communities prepare for what's likely to come in the next few months and minimize weather's impacts on lives and livelihoods. A Weather-Ready Nation hopes for the best, but prepares for the worst."
Agricultural producers in the Midwest will likely continue to struggle with planting this spring, as drought conditions are expected to continue.