National Drought Mitigation Center


USDA finds slight reductions in area of crops in drought

August 16, 2012

This graph from the USDA shows a slight reduction in the total area of continental U.S. corn crops affected by drought, but an expansion of the most intense drought.

The Drought of 2012 appears to have turned the corner, although a vast expanse of the continental U.S. remains in drought, said U.S. Drought Monitor author Brad Rippey, a meteorologist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Chief Economist.

Rippey's analysis of the 48 continental U.S. states, based on the Aug. 14 U.S. Drought Monitor, found that:

  • Currently, 61.8 percent of the continental U.S. (CONUS) is in drought (D1 to D4), down from a peak of 63.9 percent on July 24.
  • Nearly one-quarter (23.7 percent) of the CONUS is in the two worst drought categories (D3 to D4, or extreme to exceptional drought), down from a high of 24.1 percent on Aug. 7.
  • However, coverage of exceptional drought (D4) continues to climb, rising from 4.2 to 6.3 percent of the CONUS during the week ending Aug. 14.
  • Approximately 85 percent of U.S. corn is within an area experiencing drought, along with 83 percent of the soybeans, 63 percent of the hay, and 71 percent of the domestic cattle inventory.
  • The “in-drought” numbers peaked three weeks ago, on July 24, when 89 percent of the corn, 88 percent of the soybeans, 66 percent of the hay, and 73 percent of the cattle were in drought.
  • Crops and cattle in extreme to exceptional drought (D3 to D4) peaked on August 7 when 53 percent of the corn, 50 percent of the soybeans, 31 percent of the hay, and 37percent of the cattle were in extreme to exceptional drought.
  • Currently (as of Aug. 14), D3 to D4 coverage is 49 percent of the corn, 46 percent of the soybeans, 30 percent of the hay, and 36 percent of the cattle.
  • However, crops and cattle in exceptional drought (D4) continue to rise, and currently stand at 9 percent of the corn, 10 percent of the soybeans, 11 percent of the hay, and 13 percent of the cattle.

USDA maps and graphs analyzing the Aug. 14 U.S. Drought Monitor and drought's effects on crops