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Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist

UK Ag Weather Center

Updated 6-30-22

Highest drought coverage since Oct. 2019

Hit and miss rainfall has been the trend lately and the same held true this previous weekend. Some across Eastern KY saw 1-2+ inches, while portions of Central KY didn’t see anything. The latter is part of a large section of KY that has missed out on precipitation more often than not. We aren’t alone across the Midwest. Below is a look at departure-from-normal precipitation for the month of June thus far. Most of Kentucky is running at least 1-2 inches below normal, but a large section of the state is 2-3 inches.

Preliminary data at the Ag Weather Center shows the state has only averaged 2.44 inches for the month. We’re not expecting hardly anything today (6/30), so that is likely it. 2.44 would be good for a top-10 driest June on record in KY history (data back to 1895). We normally average 4.72 inches for the month. How does this compare to 2012? That year, we saw the #3 all-time driest June on record when the state averaged 1.50 inches.

The dry conditions are becoming more and more impactful by the week and

the U.S. Drought Monitor has taken notice. Roughly 31% of the state is now considered in moderate drought (map below). I’m hearing numerous reports of producers already feeding hay and corn leaves in the process of rolling up.

As a side-note, South-Central KY may not look too bad on the map above, but....for this section of KY, nearly all of this month's rain fell during one event, on the 6th and 7th. Many across this area topped 2-3 inches. Saying that, it's now been 22 straight days that this area has seen little to nothing. Evapotranspiration has taken that area's water balance in the wrong direction. Megan Schargorodski, interim director of the Kentucky Mesonet, tweeted a look at this balance in regards to one of the Mesonet stations in Warren County. Precipitation for the month sits at 3.76 inches, but total potential evapotranspiration has hit 6.24 (through June 28th). A 2.48 deficit. Agricultural success is all about timely rainfall, and this is one of the areas that hasn't gotten it!

Topsoil moisture took a large hit in this week's KY Crop Progress and Condition Report. 74% of topsoil moisture is now considered short to very short across the state. As you can see in the map below, KY saw the biggest slide across the nation, at 40%. 

Speaking of drought impacts, the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) can use your help in shaping the weekly map above by submitting your own reports. This can be done by using the Drought Impact Reporter. Your reports can help paint a better picture of drought impacts at the local level. If drought gets bad enough, the USDM can be used to trigger response and assistance programs, such as the Livestock Forage Disaster Program. More information can be found, here. The more reports, the better!

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Rain chances ahead, but will it be enough?

If you have a special rain dance, it’s time to make it happen! We need one of those "million dollar rains" and fast! In some good news, there is at least some hope as we enter into a rather unsettled period ahead. 

Today (6/30) brings just isolated showers to primarily South-Central KY. At the end of the day, most should remain dry. Coverage increases tomorrow and into Saturday as a frontal boundary sags and eventually stalls across the region. Currently leaning towards scattered activity with storms capable of producing heavy rainfall. Those scattered chances remain with the area into next week as disturbances aloft push through the area. Saying that, uncertainty still very much remains. Combined with the scattered nature of showers/storms, the forecast for accumulations is limited. On any given day, you could see nothing or over an inch. The good news, we have multiple opportunities! We'll take that forecast compared to the past couple weeks.

I included a look at a couple model runs below of total rainfall through 8PM next Tuesday evening. In addition, I added the 5-day forecast from the Weather Prediction Center for the same time period. Generally speaking, a half to 1+ inch is in play for most of the state. The one exception is across Western KY. Don't take it to the bank, though! Again, some locations may miss the rain more than it hits. Bottom line, at this point, we aren't looking at a drought buster, but I think we'll take any precipitation we can get.

Outside of rainfall, after a pleasant start to the week, summer heat has returned. We’ve seen highs lift into the low to middle 90s across the state this afternoon (6/30). The Madisonville and Hartford Mesonet stations have even hit 97! Dewpoints have increased into the upper 60s to low 70s across the southern half of KY, bringing back that soupy feel to the air and pushing heat indices over 100.

The heat and humidity will stick around the upcoming week. Livestock heat stress will run in the Danger category each afternoon and evening. Please take precautions as necessary. Outlooks continue to suggest little in the way of relief anytime soon, indicating higher confidence in above normal temperatures through the first half of July. Normal highs for this time of year run in the mid to upper 80s and lows average in the mid to upper 60s.

Related News from UK and Beyond

Kentucky Crop Progress and Condition Report - USDA NASS Kentucky Field Office, June 27, 2022

How Dry Seasons Affect Woody Plants (ID-89) - Cheryl Kaiser, UK Plant Pathology Extension Support, and Dr. Paul Vincelli, UK Plant Pathology Extension Specialist, June 28, 2022

Be Informed About Corn Disease Risk in Kentucky - Dr. Kiersten Wise, UK Plant Pathology Extension Specialist, June 28, 2022

Have you Herd? Podcast, Episode 29: Watering Systems - Drs. Josh Jackson and Morgan Hayes, UK Extension Livestock Systems Specialists, June 14, 2022

Snail Outbreak during the Drought and Hot Conditions Affect Soybeans - Dr. Raul Villanueva, UK Extension Entomology Specialist, June 28, 2022

Heat Stress and Drought Considerations for Corn - Dr. Daniel Quinn, Purdue University Extension Corn Specialist, June 21, 2022

Storm Stress and Anxiety - Paducah, KY National Weather Service Office


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