Stubborn drought maintains grip on lower 48 states
ST. LOUIS – The nation's worst drought in decades consumed a larger portion of the lower 48 states last week with the Midwest corn harvest in full swing, according to the latest update by a drought-tracking consortium released Thursday.
The U.S. Drought Monitor's new map shows 65.5 percent of the contiguous U.S. experiencing some form of drought as of Tuesday, creeping up from 64.8 percent a week earlier. The portion of the U.S. in extreme or exceptional drought – the two worst classifications – rose three-quarters of a percentage point to 21.5 percent.
The latest update did not reflect storms that pounded portions of Missouri and Illinois this week, in some areas dumping as much as 7 inches of rain that growers embrace as potentially beneficial to soybean crops still in the fields. Farmers also welcome moisture in the fall and snow in the winter that softens the soil and provides needed saturation for the next planting season.
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