Heat and drought conditions that have persisted across parts of the southern and central plains from last year have spread into the northern plains and midwest states during this summer. Farmers across the United States had hoped for beneficial precipitation this spring and summer as a drought of historic proportions parched key commodity crops, including corn, soybeans, and wheat. On July 11, the United States Department of Agriculture announced that more than 1,000 counties in 26 states qualified as natural disaster areas—the largest total area ever declared a disaster zone by the agency.
The image below is very discouraging as it shows the state of the vegetation compared to normal. Where brown colors are displayed, the vegetation is considered to be abnormal, as far as plant health is concerned, compared to what normally exists for this time of year.
(click for a closeup of the Kansas and surrounding areas)
Additional information can be found at: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=78553
Jeff Hutton, Warning Coordination Meteorologist