CASS COUNTY — Sunday night into Monday’s precipitation won’t make a dent in southwest Iowa’s drought condition and isn’t likely to help as the area is facing an abnormally dry period.
If farmers were hoping for rain to bring May flowers along with better moisture conditions, it’s not likely to be this week, Chad Hahn, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said. One hundred percent of Cass and Audubon counties are currently in an abnormally dry or D-0 drought designation, the first of five categories (abnormally dry, moderate, severe, extreme and exceptional drought).
According to the latest crop report released today from the Iowa Department of Agriculture, topsoil moisture levels rated 17% very short, 38% short, 45% adequate and 0% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 14% very short, 44% short, 42% adequate and 0% surplus. Dry conditions are a concern. Iowa farmers were able to plant almost half of the State’s expected corn crop during the week ending May 2 for a total of 69% planted, 9 days ahead of the 5-year average. With the week’s warmer temperatures, there were scattered reports of corn emerging.
Weekly precipitation totals ranged from no accumulation at several stations across Iowa to 1.72 inches at Rathbun Dam (Appanoose County). The statewide weekly average precipitation was 0.18 inch while the normal is 0.89 inch.
Mike Witt, field agronomist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach said some areas — like Harrison County — got upwards of 2 inches of rain but most didn’t get anything significant.
He said a change in the weather was coming — Justin Glisan, state climatologist, had reported that the weather should be trending — in the next 30 days — to cooler temperatures, and more than average precipitation.
Witt said farmers had used the dry time to get a lot of planting done, and any moisture that would be received would help. The longer term is where the issues are, he said, as a lot of moisture further down in the soil is depleted.
“I’m concerned that we will need a significant amount of rain,” he said, going forward, to help with the depleted subsoil moisture.
Hahn agreed. “We need several (rain events), more widespread, consistent, and with a larger (amount) of rain.” he said, adding that there was some possibility, looking out at the extended period next week to the next weekend, for more rain. “Our pattern could shift,” he said, “It’s a long ways away but we could get into a more wet weather pattern, into the middle of the month, but we have to wait and see.
“The weather over the past several days provided a great window for farmers to plant,” said IowaSecretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “Now we need some rain, especially in the northern parts of the state, to help push the crop along. Short-term outlooks are promising with the potential for cooler and wetter days ahead.”