Drought conditions across the southern Plains were a mounting concern for producers looking ahead to the seeding of their 2012 crop hard red winter wheat. The Texas drought was said to be the worst in the state’s history. Bruce Nelson, administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency, toured Texas areas devastated by the drought that has held the state in its grip since January. Mr. Nelson said, “Our top priority is to make sure that all farmers and ranchers know that we are here for them and that F.S.A. provides programs to help them through one of the worst disasters in this state’s history.” Mr. Nelson was accompanied by Juan Garcia, the Texas state executive director and acting deputy administrator for farm programs, who added, “As a native Texan, I have experienced extremely high temperatures and relatively dry conditions, but never anything of this magnitude.”

Texas was not the only drought-stricken area. The U.S.D.A.’s field office in Oklahoma indicated that as of Aug. 7 topsoil moisture across the state was 90% very short and 10% short, and subsoil moisture was 89% very short and 11% short. “Producers were waiting to see what precipitation may come before making decisions about fall small grain planting,” the office said. “Plowing continued to be hindered by the dry conditions and was behind normal for all crops. Both wheat and rye ground plowed reached 82% complete by Aug. 7.”

Extremely dry conditions also prevailed across southern Kansas, where topsoil moisture rated short to very short was 97% in the southwest, 94% in the south central sector and 93% in the southeast district of the state. Conditions were better farther north with topsoil moisture 78% adequate to surplus in the northwest district of Kansas and 51% adequate to surplus in the west central sector. For the state of Kansas as a whole, topsoil moisture was 34% adequate to surplus and 66% short to very short compared with 54% adequate to surplus and 46% short to very short a year ago.