The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is wrapping up its reporting period for crop progress and soil conditions. While nearly all of the crops have been harvested, the big story that remains is the amount of soil moisture as the Corn Belt moves into winter, when there is less that can soak into the soil.

Following is a report on soil moisture conditions and related anecdotes reported by USDA’s 4,000 volunteer reporters for this past week. The blog is filed by Stu Ellis, www.FarmGateblog.com.

Illinois: There were 5.0 days suitable for field work. Topsoil moisture:  3% of farmland is very short, 15% short, 78% adequate and 4% surplus. Subsoil moisture: 16% very short, 40% short, 44% adequate.

Indiana: There were 5.8 days suitable for field work. Topsoil moisture: 2% of farmland is very short, 11% short, 80% adequate and 7% surplus. Subsoil moisture: 11% very short, 28% short, 58% adequate and 3% surplus.

Iowa: There were 6.3 days suitable for field work statewide during the past week. Topsoil moisture levels declined to 28% very short, 38% short, 33% adequate, and 1% surplus. Subsoil moisture also declined and is now rated at 60% very short, 34% short, 6% adequate, and 0% surplus. With 94% of Iowa experiencing short to very short subsoil moisture levels, this is the driest Iowa’s subsoil has been at the close of the third week in November since 1999.

Kansas: There were 6.2 days suitable for field work. Topsoil moisture at 39% was very short, 32% short, 28% adequate and 1% surplus. Subsoil moisture: 54% very short, 34% short, 12% adequate and 0% surplus. Range and pasture condition: 53% very poor, 28% poor, 15% fair, 4% good and 0% excellent. However, precipitation is needed by all producers to sustain the newly emerged wheat crop and replenish soil moisture and livestock ponds.

Michigan: There were 6.0 days suitable for field work. Topsoil: 3% very short, 11% short, 82% adequate and 4% surplus. Subsoil moisture: 16% very short, 24% short, 60% adequate, 0% surplus.

Minnesota: There were 4.2 days suitable for field work. Topsoil moisture: 27% very short, 42% short, 29% adequate and 2% surplus.

Missouri: There were 5.6 days suitable for field work.  Topsoil moisture: 15% very short, 32% short, 51% adequate and 2% surplus. Subsoil moisture: 42% very short, 35% short, 22% adequate and 1% surplus. Pasture conditions: 30% very poor, 24% poor, 31% fair and 15% good. Supply of hay and other roughages: 44% very short, 37% short and 19% adequate. Stock water supplies: 37% very short, 40% short and 23% adequate.

Nebraska: There were 6.5 days suitable for field work. Topsoil moisture: 69% very short, 26% short and 5% adequate. Subsoil moisture: 83% very short, 16% short and 1% adequate. The state continues to be in an extreme drought with soil moisture profiles depleted. During the past 60 days, the western two-thirds of the state received less than one inch of precipitation. Statewide, the topsoil moisture rating is the lowest for this time of year since 1999. Due to short soil moisture supplies, winter wheat emergence continues behind average with thin and spotty stands reported. The winter wheat crop is rated only 17% in good condition, which is the poorest rating since 1990.

North Dakota: There were 4.1 days suitable for field work. Topsoil moisture supplies: 11% very short, 35% short, 53% adequate and 1% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies: 26% very short, 37% short and 37% adequate. Stock water supplies: 22% very short, 37% short and 41% adequate. Pasture and range conditions: 31% very poor, 34% poor, 22% fair and 13% good.

Ohio: There were 4.4 days suitable for field work. Top soil moisture: 2% very short, 11% short, 64% adequate, and 23% surplus. Range and pasture conditions: 13% very poor, 19% poor, 38% fair, 28% good and 2% excellent.

South Dakota: There were 6.2 days suitable for field work. Topsoil moisture: 53% very short, 30% short and 17% adequate. Subsoil moisture: 68% very short, 20% short and 12% adequate.

Wisconsin: There were 6.0 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture: 14% very short, 37% short, 45% adequate and 4% surplus.

Summary

Most Corn Belt states are still in drought conditions, with very low levels of top soil moisture and general absence of moisture in the subsoil. The issue now becomes whether there is enough moisture for the winter wheat crop, which is questionable.