UPDATE 1-Drought afflicts 86 percent of U.S. Midwest, crops wilt

Friday, July 27, 2012
By Paul Martin

By Michael Hirtzer
Reuters.com
Thu Jul 26, 2012

The most extensive U.S. drought in five
decades intensified this week across the Midwest and Plains
states that produce most of the country’s corn, soybeans and
livestock, a report from climate experts showed on Thursday.
And the drought is worsening in the South, which was just
recovering from last year’s drought – the worst Texas had seen
in a century.
Almost 30 percent of the nine-state Midwest was suffering
extreme drought, nearly triple from the previous week, according
to the U.S. Drought Monitor for the week ending July 24.
Conditions in the Midwest, which produces roughly
three-quarters of the corn and soybean crops in the world’s
largest producer and exporter, worsened despite the first
measurable rainfall in a month in some areas.
More than 53 percent of the United States and Puerto Rico
are in moderate drought or worse, a record-large amount for the
fourth straight week in the Drought Monitor’s 12-year history.

“The two-plus inches (of rain) from southern Wisconsin to
northern Indiana was able to only maintain status quo. Most
other areas were not as lucky,” said Drought Monitor author
Richard Heim of the National Climatic Data Center.
“Pasture, rangeland, and crop condition continued to
deteriorate from the Colorado High Plains to the Ohio- and
mid-Mississippi valleys, and from Oklahoma to the Dakotas,” he
said.

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