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The weather for 2012 has started out to be one for the record books — early warmth, dry spells, storms and cold spells. Now it seems like we’re beginning to dry out yet again. Hardin County isn’t the only area in the county experiencing drier than normal conditions. In fact, many areas across rural America are dry, posing a severe threat to crops.
As of last Thursday, 43 out of the lower 48 states were experiencing some degree of abnormal dryness. One of the areas with the most widespread dryness includes the Midwest, where a large percentage of the nation’s grain crops are grown.
Crop reports continue to show that nationwide the corn and soybean crops are in good condition. However, things will change quickly if significant rainfall is not received in many areas. Roughly 53 percent of the Midwest is listed as at least “abnormally dry,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Grain markets have reacted to the adverse weather conditions in the last few weeks and fluctuated greatly. The next few weeks will tell the story as to which way the markets will trend. A prolonged dry spell or a widespread soaking rain throughout the Midwest will set the tone and lock market trends.
It also is important to note most of the country’s grain crops were planted earlier than normal, and many acres will enter crucial stages of development in the coming weeks.
Another area of interest is the Southwest, where the majority of the nation’s livestock production is located. This area is listed as roughly 84 percent being at least “abnormally dry.” While this is a better situation than that area was in a year ago, the dryness is limiting recovery from the record drought that was experienced there. Substantial rainfall is needed to allow pastures to recover.
Back home in Kentucky, we are experiencing our own areas of drought. The state is listed as 31 percent at least “abnormally dry,” with 17 percent listed in “moderate drought” conditions and 11 percent listed in “severe drought.” These areas primarily are in western Kentucky.
Hardin County is not listed as experiencing any type of drought situation. However, areas of the county could be classified as “abnormally dry” should dry weather prevail in the coming weeks.
Matt Adams is a Hardin County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources.