As you are in the combine cab, lamenting the yield loss that the drought stole from you, many folks will be thinking, “What is next?” A shortage of moisture for much of the growing season is one thing, but what are the ramifications of dry soils as we move forward. There are quite a few of those, and this is an incomplete list.

The drought has not only taken a toll on yields of row crops, small grains and pasture, but has left a negative legacy that will impact the economy for months to come, and will impact the agronomic resources of the Corn Belt for an undetermined length of time.


1. Soil Moisture

One of the first concerns is the lack of moisture going into the 2013 growing season. Currently, topsoil and subsoil moisture (pdf) resources are slim to none in the Corn Belt. 

·      IL: Topsoil moisture 62% very short, 29% short, 9% adequate. Subsoil moisture 75% very short, 22% short, 3% adequate. 

·      IN: Topsoil moisture 34% very short, 39% short, 27% adequate. Subsoil moisture 54% very short, 33% short, 13% adequate. 

·      IA: Topsoil moisture level is unchanged from last week at 60% very short, 31% short, 9% adequate and 0% surplus. Subsoil moisture also remains unchanged from last week at 70% very short, 26% short, 4% adequate, and 0 percent surplus.

·      KS: Topsoil moisture 74% very short, 23% short, 3% adequate, 0% surplus. Subsoil moisture 73% very short, 24% short, 3% adequate, 0% surplus.

·      MI: Topsoil moisture 7% very short, 25% short, 62% adequate, 6% surplus. Subsoil moisture 21% very short, 35% short, 41% adequate, 3% surplus. 

·      MN: Topsoil moisture 16% Very Short, 38% Short, 45% Adequate, and 1% Surplus.

·      MO: Topsoil moisture 90% very short, 9% short, 1% adequate. Subsoil moisture supply 90% short, 9% short, 1% adequate. 

·      NE: Topsoil moisture 69% very short, 28% short, 3% adequate. Subsoil moisture 69% very short, 27% short, 4% adequate. 

·      ND: Topsoil moisture 15% very short, 46% short, 38% adequate, 1% surplus. Subsoil moisture 15% very short, 47% short, 37% adequate, 1% surplus. 

·      OH: Topsoil moisture 29% very short, 39% short, 32% adequate, 0% surplus. 

·      SD: Topsoil moisture 51% very short, 30% short, 19% adequate. Subsoil moisture 56% very short, 27% short, 16% adequate, 1% surplus. 

·      WI: Topsoil moisture 23% very short, 39% short, 37% adequate, and 1% surplus.

With soil moisture levels low, some areas will need to collect 6-10 in. of precipitation over the fall and winter to get back to normal. In all likelihood that is possible to collect that much, but force of the rain and the degree to which the ground is frozen will limit the potential for success. While snow will melt more slowly and have a greater chance of being absorbed, an uneven distribution of the snow will cause spot shortages.