Drought conditions are getting worse in several states,
and extreme heat and weeks with little rain have begun to stress corn, soybeans, wheat and livestock in some areas.
The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says nearly 11 percent of the continental United States is in moderate drought or worse.
The most severe drought area is centered on portions of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.
The United States Department of Agriculture has designated several counties in those states as areas of natural disaster, paving the way for emergency loans for producers.
Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas also are seeing stressed crops and livestock.
About half of U.S. spring wheat, 15 percent of corn and 14 percent of soybeans are in drought. The Corn Belt has seen double-digit percentage increases.
Drought coverage is growing around the nation, with the current drought monitor showing over 32 percent of the country in some form of drought.