(Photo: U.S. Drought Monitor)
Dry weather woes worsen
June 22, 2023 | Jeff Hutton
“We need rain.”
That’s the message echoing from soybean fields across Iowa as producers continue to look to the skies for much-needed moisture.
Despite some recent rains this past weekend, the U.S. Drought Monitor report this week indicates the vast majority of the state is listed as being abnormally dry or suffering from moderate or severe drought. In a few cases, portions of five counties along Iowa’s western border, as well as five counties in southeast and south central Iowa are being tested by extreme drought.
And for the remainder of June, the forecast doesn’t look much better.
“As drought and abnormally dry conditions continue across Iowa, widespread weekend rainfall throughout most of the state was welcomed by farmers,” says Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig. “While scattered storms are possible this weekend, the official start to summer this week will coincide with a stretch of hot and dry days.”
According to the State Climatologist Justin Glisan, just under half of the climatological expected rain fell across Iowa over the reporting period with deficits approaching two inches in portions of northeastern and southern Iowa. Cooler conditions were also reported with departures of up to five degrees below normal in northeast Iowa; the statewide average temperature was 67.9 degrees, 2.7 degrees below normal.
Glisan says weekly rain totals ranged from no accumulation at multiple stations to 2.60 inches in Story City (Story County). The statewide weekly average precipitation was about half an inch, while the normal rate is just more than 1 inch of rain.
While all areas of the state need moisture, 10 Iowa counties, in particular, need rainfall – Woodbury, Monona, Harrison, Pottawattamie, Mills, Wapello, Van Buren, Davis, Appanoose and Wayne. Those counties are impacted by “extreme drought” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says the below average precipitation for the past week gave Iowa farmers 6.3 days suitable for fieldwork during the week.
Topsoil moisture conditions rated 20% very short, 50% short, 30% adequate and 0% surplus. The percentage of topsoil moisture considered short to very short has gone from 25% the week ending May 21, to 70%for the week ending June 18. Subsoil moisture condition rated 17% very short, 47% short, 35% adequate and 1% surplus.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) says 98% of soybeans have emerged, 10 days ahead of last year and two weeks ahead of the five-year average. Soybean condition, however, dropped to 56 percent good to excellent.
Iowa soybean producers are not alone when it comes to drought concerns.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly 57% of the soybean production area in the United States is experiencing drought, including portions of Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota.
Farmers across Iowa will continue to face weather woes for the remainder of June as forecasts only call for scattered thunderstorms this weekend.
Temperatures across Iowa will hover in the mid- to upper 80s with rain chances this weekend and next.
Naig says beyond June, “longer term outlooks are showing a return to near-normal rainfall as we enter a critical period for crop growth.”