(Reuters) - Abnormally dry conditions and pockets of moderate drought have spread over parts of the U.S. Midwest in the past week, including in the key crop state of Iowa, according to a report issued on Thursday.
The U.S. Drought Monitor, issued weekly by state and federal climate experts, said more than 60 percent of Iowa was suffering from moderate drought, up from 35 percent a week earlier.
It said 22 percent of the state was in severe drought, compared with nil a week ago.
Overall, 25 percent of the Midwest, which also includes the key farm states of Illinois, Missouri and Minnesota, was in at least moderate drought, up from just 8 percent a week earlier, the report said.
For the contiguous United States, the portion of the nation suffering from extreme or exceptional drought - the worst levels of drought - was little changed at 10.53 percent.
But levels of “moderate drought” expanded to 50 percent from 45.6 percent.
Hot temperatures, coupled with a lack of precipitation, caused abnormally dry conditions and moderate drought to expand in parts of the U.S. High Plains, the Drought Monitor report said.
Top wheat producer Kansas is in mostly good shape, with 45 percent of the state considered to have no dryness problems. A year ago at this time, the entire state was considered in severe drought, or worse, according to the report.
Reporting by Carey Gillam; Editing by John Wallace