Another week with little rain and temperatures in the 90s and low 100s has causedsevere drought conditions to expand into southwest and central Georgia. Only in southcentral Georgia did drought conditions improve last week.Timely rains in the next few weeks will be critical for many in Georgia agriculture.Even among some producers who have been irrigating, concern is growing over the level ofwater remaining in some irrigation ponds. Lack of Topsoil Moisture CriticalThe Georgia Agricultural Statistics Servicereports that moisture is short to very short in 81 percent of the state’s soils. Last yearat this time, soil moisture was short to very short in 46 percent of the soils. Theaverage over the past five years is 33 percent.GASS rated more than 50 percent of soybeans and pastures in poor to very poorcondition. A third of the state’s cotton is rated poor to very poor.The lack of topsoil moisture is most critical in southwest Georgia, according to theAug. 14 Crop Moisture Indexvalues. The CMI is a measure of soil moisture in the root zone of crops.Crops DamagedThe CMI value for southwest Georgia shows a potential for dryland crops to be ruinedbecause of dryness. Actual crop losses will depend on the growth stage of a crop and itsability to withstand drought conditions. Timely rains will save some crops.The CMI indicates that dryness may severely cut crop yields in west central and centralGeorgia.Soils in northeast and east central Georgia are excessively dry, with crop yieldprospects reduced.Abnormally dry soils are found in northwest and north central Georgia, and crop yieldprospects are deteriorating.The topsoil moisture in south central and southeast Georgia is rated as short.Through mid-August, all major cities in Georgia were below normal for monthly rainfall.Rainfall totals (and monthly deficits) through Aug. 17 were: Athens, 0.55 inches (-1.61inches); Atlanta, 0.10 (-2.02); Augusta, 0.49 (-2.06); Columbus, 0.80 (-1.39); Macon, 0.22(-1.88); and Savannah, 1.61 (-2.59).4 Regions in Severe DroughtLong-term conditions according to the Palmer Drought Severity Indexindicate that northeast, west central, central and southwest Georgia are in severedrought. North central, east central and southeast Georgia are in moderate drought.Mild drought conditions are found in the northwest and south central regions of thestate.The PSDI is most useful in hydrological aspects of drought.Stream flows across the state are generally running in the 10th percentile range. Manywater systems have begun either partial or total outdoor watering bans.Above-normal Rainfall NeededSoil moisture loss from evapotranspiration ranged from 1.25 to 1.5 inches across thestate last week. Above-normal rainfall will be needed just to keep up with soil moistureloss through evapotranspiration.To end the long-term drought, more than half a foot of rain is needed across most ofthe state. The best hope for long-term drought relief is a tropical weather system.You can get updates on drought conditions in Georgia and across the Southeast at the University of Georgia drought Website. Or call your county ExtensionService agent.Get updated weather conditions at the GeorgiaAutomated Environmental Monitoring Web site.