Iowa’s drought has worsened, spelling concerns for next year’s growing season.
The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor map, released Thursday, shows that the epicenter of the drought has moved westward from Indiana and Illinois onto Iowa.
The map showed that as of Tuesday, 75.3 percent of the state was in extreme drought, up from 65.8 percent a week ago.
State climatologist Harry Hillaker noted that to be effective in replenishing soil moisture, rains need to fall by Dec. 1 and the usual freezing of Iowa’s soils.
“After that, moisture generally just runs off the frozen ground,” Hillaker said. “The clock is ticking. We need some rain soon to build up the soil moisture.”
The cool front that dropped temperatures into the low 50s in Iowa on Thursday failed to bring much moisture.
That means the state’s drought will persist going into the fall season, which normally is crucial for replenishing soils dried by summer.
Iowa’s rainfall through the end of September totaled 20.57 inches, 9.12 inches short of the 29.69 inches normal through the first nine months of the year.
“We really need soil moisture recharge, and we need it soon,” Iowa State University Extension agronomist Roger Elmore said.
The 9.12-inch moisture deficit is the eighth largest on record in Iowa’s history, Hillaker said.
Despite the dry conditions, Iowa is still likely to top the total rainfall of the last severe drought, in 1988, when just 21.65 inches fell the entire year.
Iowa’s normal annual rainfall is 35.27 inches.
Only the northwest quarter of Illinois is now in the severe drought category, and the rest of the state is merely dry, according to the drought map.
The heavy drought through August in Illinois has rendered the corn crop in that state, normally the No. 2 producer behind Iowa, 75 percent poor to very poor.
Iowa’s corn crop has been rated 47 percent poor to very poor by the USDA.
Despite the drought, early harvest soundings continue to be more optimistic than forecasts made in July and August...
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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