Recent rains brought some relief to the drought-ravaged southern U.S. Plains, though parts of Texas saw the worst of the drought actually expand, a report from U.S. climatologists said May 19.
Texas, suffering its longest dry spell on record, saw the highest level of drought – dubbed “exceptional” by climatologists – move from 47.56 per cent to 47.87 per cent of the state, according to the Drought Monitor report released by a consortium of national climate experts.
The U.S. winter wheat crop is forecast to be the smallest in five years due to the drought.
Overall levels of severe and extreme drought decreased slightly but still remained a problem for more than 80 per cent of the key U.S. farm state.
Kansas, the top U.S. wheat-growing state, also saw the expansion of severe, extreme and exceptional levels of drought across the state, with most dire drought conditions concentrated in the south-central and southwest parts of the state.
Kansas now has 50 per cent of the state suffering severe levels of drought or worse, according to the report, up from 41 per cent.
Wheat harvest is underway now and production is expected to be curtailed substantially because of the drought.
But rains fell on drought-stricken portions of central and eastern Texas and central Oklahoma, as well as on already saturated middle Mississippi, Tennessee, and through the Ohio Valley, the Drought Monitor report said.