The good news is that crop planting progress has been speedy on the East Coast. The not-so-good news is that soil moisture levels are falling off of what were just adequate levels before the planting season began. And based on our website queries, farmers in northern New England are already scouting for corn grain to buy now for their cattle.
Abnormally dry conditions continue across most of the Northeast. In Pennsylvania, precipitation deficits range from 3 to 6 inches (less than 50% of normal) over the past 60 days, says Kyle Imhoff, assistant Pennsylvania state climatologist. That's confirmed by the U.S. Drought Monitor, resulting in expanded dry soil conditions across southeastern Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, eastern New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Any reprieve in the form of organized, widespread rainfall appears unlikely over the next week. But cool weather would help mitigate crop stress as young plants set down roots.
As of May 12, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed that the whole East Coast was slightly dry. And the U.S.Drought Monitor indicated the same.
The Old Farmer's Almanac says...
New England: April and May will be warmer and wetter than normal in the north and much warmer and drier than normal in the south. Summer will be hotter than normal, with below-normal rainfall. The hottest periods will occur in early June, early July, mid- to late July, and early August. September and October will be warmer and slightly wetter than normal.
Appalachians: April and May will be warmer and drier than normal. Summer rainfall and temperatures will be close to normal, on average, with the hottest periods in mid- to late June, mid- to late July, and mid-September. September and October will be warmer than normal. Rainfall will be below normal in the north and above normal in the south.
Atlantic corridor (New Jersey to North Carolina): April and May will be warmer and generally drier than normal. Summer will be hotter and drier than normal, despite a tropical storm threat in early to mid-August. The hottest periods will occur in early June, mid- to late July, and early to mid-August. September and October will be warmer than normal, with near-normal rainfall.
Tracking Northeast soil moisture levels
For the last few weeks, we've been tracking adequate to surplus moisture levels as a percentage of reported moisture levels, as monitored by USDA's National Ag Statistics Service. Now, we'll show you how they're shifting from week to week and adding a "short of moisture" category. The first number is percent short; second is percent adequate; third is percent surplus. If the numbers don't add up to 100%, the remainder is critically short.
As you can see, the lack of rainfall has brought a sizable shift in just one week.
May 10 May 4
Topsoil 44%/5%/43% 10%/74%/14%
Subsoil 10%/82%/5% 11%/72%/10%
Topsoil 24%/82%/5% 8%/82%/8%
Subsoil 15%/77%/4% 7%/88%/4%
Topsoil 30%/55%/8% 21%/47%/31%
Subsoil 13%/66%/15% 10%/46%/44%
Topsoil 33%/50%/3% 18%/74%/5%
Subsoil 32%/62%/2% 10%/86%/4%
Topsoil 25%/51%/20% 8%/60%/32%
Subsoil 13%/60%/27% 2%/62%/36%
Topsoil 35%/62%/2% 2%/91%/7%
Subsoil 19%/80%/1% 8%/83%/9%