It’s tough news for Midwest farmers expecting to see improvements in this week’s USDA’s Drought Monitor report following several weeks of welcomed cool and wet conditions. Unfortunately, it’s not the news anyone wants to see – minimal progress in alleviating the drought.

Drought now makes up 63 percent of the lower 48 states, improved by 0.31 of a percentage point since last week. Areas in extreme to exceptional drought, the most severe recorded by the USDA, is still virtually unchanged at 23 percent.

Regionally, the Midwest improved over the week, thanks to showers that spread throughout the area. The Drought Monitor showed the percentage of the region in extreme to exceptional drought fell by 2 percentage points to 33 percent.  However, the rain also did little to help the crops already damaged by the summer’s unrelenting heat waves and dry weather.

“Where the heaviest rains occurred, improvements were made,” the Drought Monitor report said. “But it should be noted that many of the row crops will not benefit from these rains and pastures have had minimal improvement so far. “

While the Midwest showed some improved, further to the west in the High Plains drought conditions continued to intensify. Fifty-four percent of the region was reported in extreme to exceptional drought.

Across the country, four key agricultural states reported at least 90 percent of land in extreme to exceptional drought, though showing slight improvement from last week:  


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Can Isaac save the Midwest?See how your state or region is doing here.

Drought-related disasters have touched all but 10 of the contagious states.

All of the top 18 corn-producing states have been impacted, and 10 of the states have seen all of their counties declared a disaster area.

There may be change coming later this week, however, as Tropical Storm Isaac slowly creeps further to the north.

The absolute track of the storm may still be developing, but the National Hurricane Center has pegged Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio to get a much-needed soaking.

Can Isaac save the Midwest?According to the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, some areas of Missouri may see between 3 to 4 inches of rain, while a band of heavier rain could dump more than 7 inches of rain in central portions of Illinois and Indiana.

The news may be good for quenching the drought’s impact, but crops won’t be as lucky.

Harvest will be slowed in nearly all areas of the Corn Belt, and Don Keeney, meteorologist for MDA EarthSat Weather, reports in a Reuters article that mature corn and soybeans could potentially suffer further losses from high winds, heavy rain and localized flooding.  Read more here.