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IOWA — It has been weeks since many parts of the state have seen any measurable rainfall – a fact reflected in the updated drought monitor released by the United States Department of Agriculture today. More than half of the state – 56% – is now experiencing drought conditions, according to the report. That’s a nine-percent increase from last week’s report.

The worst of the drought remains in northwest Iowa. Five counties, including all of Plymouth County, are considered to be in ‘Extreme Drought’. That is the second-highest category on the USDA’s drought intensity scale. Most Iowans witness drought now – and about one-third of the state’s land – falls into the lowest level of drought concern: ‘Abnormally Dry’.

The USDA crop report for Iowa released earlier this week showed both corn and soybean crops are doing exceptionally well right now despite the lack of rain. The forecast for the next week in central Iowa calls for temperatures in the upper 90s with few chances for precipitation.