U.S. Department of Agriculture analysis of the July 31 U.S. Drought Monitor from Brad Rippey, USDA meteorologist, Office of the Chief Economist, shows that:
- The percent area in drought stabilized or even improved slightly, mainly due to late-July drought relief in the eastern U.S.
- Between July 24 and 31, U.S. corn in drought improved slightly from 89 to 88 percent. Soybeans also improved a point, from 88 to 87 percent.
- The percentage of corn in the two worst drought categories (D3 to D4, or extreme to exceptional drought) climbed from 37 to 40 percent.
- The percentage of soybeans in extreme to exceptional drought (D3 to D4) advanced from 35 to 39 percent.
- Between July 24 and 31, hay acreage in drought dipped from 66 to 64 percent, mainly due to late-July rainfall in the East.
- Hay in extreme to exceptional drought (D3 to D4) rose from 23 to 28 percent.
- Finally, 72 percent of the domestic cattle inventory was in an area experiencing drought on July 31, down one point from a week ago.
- Domestic cattle in extreme to exceptional drought (D3 to D4) jumped from 28 to 33 percent.
Bottom line: There was further drought intensification in the hardest-hit areas of the Plains, Midwest, and Mid-South, but some slight improvement in the overall drought situation in the eastern U.S. Contiguous U.S. drought coverage dipped nearly one percentage point, from 63.86 to 62.91 percent.
Maps and graphs of USDA analysis of July 31, 2012 U.S. Drought Monitor