Drought conditions returningWashington County listed as being abnormally dry
Just like last summer, the state of Iowa is back on the United States Drought Monitor.
Parts of the state are listed as abnormally dry, which includes Washington County. Central and southwestern Iowa are listed as being in a moderate drought.
This has people saying the same thing. Iowa needs the rain to keep from damaging crop production.
Ainsworth farmer Mike Roberts isn’t surprised about the change of conditions. He has been farming for over 40 years. He said there have been other years when this has happened.
“We just go from one extreme to the other,” Roberts said. “This has been happening for the past couple of years.”
In the April 12, 2013, edition of The Journal Roberts spoke about the wet conditions the state was seeing. He said the moisture was beneficial for planting and he wasn’t concerned about it.
Now he is wondering about the moisture levels in the subsoil.
“I’d say we’re OK, but it’s starting to get very, very dry,” Roberts said. “We need more rain to have a higher-yielding crop.”
Like Roberts, Iowa State agronomist Jim Fawcett said moisture is needed.
“We still have some subsoil moisture but it’s farther down and the crops are using more energy to reach that moisture,” Fawcett said. “They’re losing moisture more rapidly — we just need more rain.”
When asked if he was surprised about Iowa being listed on the drought monitor again, he said no.
“It’s been very, very dry for the last month or so,” Fawcett said. “The last time we had significant rain, I think, was on July 26.”
Despite the lack of rain Fawcett thinks the crop production will fare well.
“I think we will still have a high-yielding crop with the cooler temperatures we’ve been seeing,” Fawcett said.
There are a couple of things that still could affect the crop yields. One is the possible change of temperatures, he said.
“What’s saving the crops is the cooler weather we’ve been having,” Fawcett said, “but next week temperatures are supposed to go back up. If they stay up for a long period of time the subsoil moisture will dry out quicker.”
Another thing Fawcett has been watching is the possibility of an early frost. He said there is potential for crop loss if this happens.
Despite the changes in the subsoil moisture level, Fawcett thinks eastern Iowa has fared pretty well.
“There were some crops that were in late,” he said. “We’ve been lucky in eastern Iowa because we were able to get crops planted. There are thousands of acres across the state that didn’t get planted.”
The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced in partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according to its Web site.