Drought reduced, but impact will last
Posted: 08/29/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Justin Leighty
Over the last few weeks most of Elkhart County dropped from extreme drought to only severe, with northwestern Elkhart County dropping to moderate drought, according to the National Drought Monitor, a cooperative effort between various federal agencies.
Recent rains “came too late in the season for many area crops, which are reporting catastrophic losses. Water levels on area rivers and lakes are still below normal with some locations near record lows for this time of year,” said meteorologist Courtney Obergfell in Monday’s weekly drought report for the NWS office in North Webster.
The drought started affecting parts of Elkhart County at the end of April, and it got worse until early August.
It’s a tough story for farmers here like those across the state and region.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier this month released an estimate of 100 bushels of corn per acre in Indiana, less than two-thirds the five-year average of 157 bushels an acre. Soybeans were estimated to yield 37 bushels an acre, down from nearly 47 bushels an acre in the five-year average.
“These are remarkable low numbers, particularly on the corn,” said Chris Hurt, Purdue Extension agricultural economist, after the report was released. “Indiana is the worst of the major production states in terms of corn production. We knew that early on. It started here and then spread to the west.”
In Monday’s crop report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Indiana’s corn crop was listed at 70 percent in poor or very poor condition, while soybeans were listed as 43 percent of the state’s crop in poor or very poor condition.
Goshen is 3.28 inches below normal for summer precipitation, and nearly eight inches below normal for the year.
For August, though, Goshen got nearly 5 inches of rain, which is 0.85 inches above normal, according to the NWS in North Webster.
While there aren’t any more showers in the forecast until Friday, the seasonal drought outlook calls for improvement to drought conditions through the next three months, according to the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center in Maryland.
Food prices will go up about three percent because of the drought, Hurt said earlier in the month, and that could increase another three to four percent next year. “Consumers pay in the form of food prices and consumers pay in the form of fuel prices” because of ethanol blended into gasoline, Hurt said.
Between those two factors, for American families, the drought “is cutting into that paycheck,” he said.