Midwest Drought Worsens

The nation's worst drought in decades is showing no sign of letting up in several key Midwest farming states, worrying farmers harvesting the summer's withered corn crop in record time that their winter crops may also be at risk.

Overall drought conditions in the lower 48 states held steady over the seven-day period ending Tuesday, with about one-fifth of the total land area in extreme or exceptional drought, the two worst classifications, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor's weekly update of its drought map released Thursday.

Conditions worsened, though, in Kansas and Iowa, the nation's biggest corn producer, and nearly 98% of Nebraska was still deemed to be in one of the two worst categories.

The unrelenting dryness won't have much effect on the region's corn and soybean crops, which are already being plucked from the fields. But it could hurt other crops, such as winter wheat.

According to the map, which is put out by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, 75% of Iowa is enduring extreme or exceptional drought. That's up roughly 10 percentage points from the previous week.

Just over 93.25% of Kansas was in the same predicament, which was an increase of roughly 5 percentage points.

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