Iowa finally sees rain after weeks of dry weather

Precipitation likely will ease worsening drought conditions.

Iowa is finally getting some rain after more than a month of dry weather, which likely will give crops a boost in the biggest U.S. producer of corn and second-largest grower of soybeans.

Rainfall is forecast for much of Iowa today and tonight and is expected to continue into tomorrow, according to the National Weather Service. After a brief lull, storms may appear again this weekend, the NWS said in a report Thursday morning.

“We’re going to see … this weekend rains ramp up in Iowa and Wisconsin and the north-central Midwest,” said Donald Keeney, a senior agricultural meteorologist at Maxar. “Iowa will get some good rain through almost all of the state with this system Friday and Saturday.”

More precipitation is expected in the west-central part of the state that’s been an area of concern next week, he said.

Little or no rain has fallen in the region in at least the past 30 days, according to the NWS. Several counties are in an “extreme drought,” which means crop losses and water shortages are likely, the U.S. Drought Monitor said in a report today.

About 6.2% of Iowa is in an extreme drought, up from 0% last week, while another 28% of counties have moderate to severe drought conditions, the monitor said.

Keeney told Agriculture.com that much of the U.S. Corn Belt should get a nice drink of water in the next seven to 10 days. That likely will boost crop conditions.

About 72% of the corn crop was in good or excellent condition as of Sunday, unchanged week-to-week but still better than the 57% that earned top ratings the same week a year earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture; 39% of the crop was in the dough stage while 92% was silking, the USDA said.

Some 73% of soybeans were in good or excellent condition at the start of the week, up from 72% seven days earlier and 54% at this point in 2019; 59% were setting pods and 85% were blooming as of Sunday, the agency said.

In the northern Plains where spring wheat is growing, rains are expected to return late next week, Commodity Weather Group said in a report Thursday.

Precipitation also may give spring wheat and canola in the Canadian Prairies a boost, CWG said.

About 73% of the U.S. spring wheat crop was in good or excellent condition this week, up from 70% a week earlier, the USDA said. So far 5% was in the bin, half the prior five-year average for this time of the year, the government said.

Maxar’s Keeney said western North Dakota, western South Dakota, and parts of eastern Montana likely will be dry in the next few weeks, but that shouldn’t pose too much of a risk to growing crops.

The Drought Monitor is showing that about 12% of North Dakota, the biggest U.S. producer of spring wheat, is suffering from a “moderate drought,” while about 37% is abnormally dry.  Some damage to crops is possible during a moderate drought, and some streams and reservoirs likely will be low, the monitor said.

“Western portions of the Dakotas and Montana have had decent rains so far, so it’s not going to be a big deal, but by the end of the month they could see some limited stress there,” he said.

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