No surplus moisture in drought plagued Iowa, USDA says
Drought in northwest Iowa has intensified, according to the drought monitor released Thursday. D3 extreme drought has expanded in Sioux, O’Brien, Clay, Ida, Sac, Calhoun, Woodbury, Monona, and Osceola counties.
Matt Welte raises dryland corn and soybeans in Woodbury County. He says, “Yields were terrific around home. As good, if not better, than last year. You didn’t have to go far and they fell off quick.”
The county has been plagued by exceptional, extreme, and severe drought most of the 2022 growing season. Welte “did not have to worry about getting rained out” this harvest, he said. "The severity of drought is really starting to show in the ponds, rivers, and creeks. Many claim to have never seen water levels this low during their lifetime."
Although precipitation didn’t slow down harvest for area farmers, field fires have. Noting fires near Hornick and Ricketts late this week, Welte says there have been more blazes than normal.
Looking ahead to 2023
With corn harvest 77% complete and 94% of the state's soybean crop out of the field, farmers are turning their attention to the 2023 season ahead. Welte says he still plans to do his variable rate programs, but will be more aware of drought tolerance scores when making seed decisions.
"We will continue to do no till practices to conserve what moisture we do have, and hopefully will get. At this point, we're hoping for some big snow this winter to help fill the creeks and ponds back up."
- READ MORE: How to drought-proof a ranch
Statewide Drought Summary
For the fourth week in a row 100% of Iowa’s acres are suffering from moisture stress.
D4 exceptional drought has remained steady for the second week in a row in Woodbury County and covers less than 1% of the state.
D3 extreme drought surged to more than 10% of the state, up from less than 7% the week prior.
D2 severe drought increased to cover more than 34% of the state with pockets in northwest, southwest, and southeast regions.
D1 moderate drought spans 44% of Iowa.
Just over 11% of the state is abnormally dry.
On Monday, USDA said topsoil moisture condition improved to 24% very short, 44% short, 32% adequate, and 0% surplus.
Subsoil moisture condition also improved very slightly from the week prior to 26% very short, 45% short, 29% adequate, and 0% surplus.