Field cracked and dry because of droughtThe last time expansive drought conditions hit U.S. crop producers in the 2012 crop year, the dryness and warmth began building well before spring, back to late 2011. Now, meteorologists are watching for signs that level of drought will return in 2021. Ocean temperatures are vastly different, with Pacific temps much warmer now than they were at this time in 2011. Early spring 2012 also saw temperatures much warmer than normal, with deep low-pressure troughs off the western coast — all the way north to Alaska — keeping warm, dry air circulating around much of the lower 48 states. But right now, those troughs are farther inland in the Canadian prairies, meaning the lower third of the contiguous states will likely see drought continuing to ratchet up. The northern Plains and western Corn Belt will remain dry as the West Coast and Southeast see greater moisture chances in the next 10 days, but it remains too early to tell if a repeat of the 2012 drought is in store for 2021. See more from the latest outlook.