Midwest hot, dry spell brings back drought worries

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A growing season that began unusually wet and cold in the Midwest is finishing hot and dry, renewing worries of drought and its impact on crops.

Experts say corn and soybeans may not have enough moisture in dry areas to develop to full weight, which could reduce this year's harvest.

The weekly Drought Monitor report released Thursday shows that lack of rain has caused drought conditions to expand in parts of Illinois, Indiana and Michigan, and most of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Much of central Indiana is abnormally dry right now.

It also shows that abnormally dry conditions have expanded in eastern Iowa and South Dakota. Rain eased drought in portions of northern Nebraska, but much of the western half of the state remain in extreme drought.

Drought also expanded in portions of Texas, Louisiana and southern Arkansas.

Indianapolis residents asked to water trees

The 2012 summer drought prompted water bans across central Indiana. There are no such bans in place right now, but Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. says it's taken steps to ensure that trees are being cared for and the public is informed.

KIB along with the City of Indianapolis, is asking residents to give their trees 15 gallons of water, once a week, if planted within the last three to five years.

See tree care tips here.

Because of the urgent need to protect our city's trees, KIB is investing more resources into watering:

• Weekly watering notifications: Visitors to the KIB homepage can see weekly reminders and tips for watering. Through a color-coded notification system, residents will know immediately the conditions for watering, and ways to ensure trees that have been planted in the last five years are cared for properly. Additionally, notifications will also be sent through Facebook and Twitter, encouraging residents to Tweet @kibiorg with the hashtag #thirstytrees or send a message on Facebook about watering efforts.

• Volunteer watering crews: Opportunities are currently available to assist KIB in watering trees during this drought season, every Monday evening from 6-8PM at various sites around Indy; additional days and times are currently being added.

Residents in a south-central Indiana subdivision where wells have dried up suspect heavy irrigation of nearby cropland during the state's current dry spell may be causing their woes.

Two Columbus wells dry 

Two private wells have recently gone dry in Villa Park subdivision south of Columbus. Both of those homeowners suspect last year's drought, combined with the current dry spell and farmers' heavy irrigation of nearby corn and soybean fields caused their wells to dry up.

They told The Republic that a recent test on another neighbor's well has showed that the area's water table has dropped six feet in four months.

Homeowner Jerry Harper's well dried up this week. He says he understand that farmers need to make a living but they shouldn't "overuse water." He calls that "wasteful."