Precipitation brings drought relief to Corn Belt, but cold, wet weather delays planting
Despite widespread dry conditions across the Midwest and High Plains, it’s the wet and cold that is keeping Brian Pickering from getting his crops in the ground.
“Cool, wet weather is really what this last week boiled down to,” says Pickering, who grows corn and soybeans in Benton County, Iowa. “We’re currently at a standstill. We are now debating whether we’ll be able to plant yet this week or have to wait until next week.”
Benton County is currently in a mix of moderate drought and abnormally dry conditions, but it also received nearly 2 inches of rain this week. The rest of the state has seen significant reduction in drought acreage, with 10% of counties reporting moderate conditions vs. 21% last week. Overall, 45% of Iowa reported abnormally dry conditions or worse.
The soil temperatures also hovered around 48˚F., just under Pickering’s ideal temperature of 50˚F. at the 4-inch depth.
So far this year, Pickering has no crops planted. At this time last year, he had around 85% of his corn in.
“I think we’re still OK in terms of our window for planting corn,” Pickering says. “If we get past Mother’s Day, and I still don’t have anything planted, I will start to worry. We’ll have to wait and see how the next seven to 10 days work out.”
If he can get a stretch of days that are dry, warm, and the soil temperature is above 50˚F., Pickering says he can get all his corn in as fast as five days.
Counties at the center of the state received the most moisture this week, with totals averaging 3 inches in Marshall, Story, Polk, and Boone counties. The rest of the state saw lower numbers, averaging around 1 inch. Several counties on the western edge received the lowest totals, averaging less than .25 inch.
Most of Iowa’s planting has made little progress, according to the April 25 Crop Progress Report. Only 2% of corn has been planted so far this year vs. 18% planted in 2021, and soybeans are 1% planted vs. 5% in 2021.
Iowa topsoil moisture levels were rated 4% very short, 18% short, 67% adequate, and 11% surplus, according to the recent Crop Progress report. Iowa subsoil levels were rated 9% very short, 29% short, 58% adequate, and 4% surplus.
Below are what other states across the Corn Belt are experiencing.
Illinois saw a significant reduction in drought intensity this week. Moderate drought conditions, previously reported at 7% in the northern counties, now account for 0% of the state. Abnormally dry conditions account for 8% of the state.
The northern counties reported the most precipitation, with Caroll, Ogle, and Lee counties reporting about 2.5 inches. Counties in the center of the state reported lower levels of precipitation, with Fayette and Montgomery counties reporting .5 inch.
Illinois topsoil moisture levels were rated 0% very short, 2% short, 49% adequate, and 49% surplus, according to the April 25 Crop Progress Report. Illinois subsoil levels were rated 1% very short, 4% short, 55% adequate, and 40% surplus.
Kansas’ drought intensity expanded this week, as extreme conditions in the center of the state spread to two additional counties. More than 17% of the state reports extreme conditions. About 35% of the state reports severe conditions, mostly concentrated on the western half of Kansas. Seventy-nine percent of the state reports abnormally dry conditions or worse.
This week, most of Kansas received little to no precipitation. Bourbon, Allen, Anderson, Lyon, and Chase counties on the eastern edge reported the most precipitation, with an average of 1.5 inches.
The April 25 Crop Progress Report indicated Kansas topsoil moisture levels were rated 37% very short, 32% short, 30% adequate, and 1% surplus. Kansas subsoil levels were rated 34% very short, 34% short, 31% adequate, and 1% surplus.
Minnesota’s drought reduced significantly in acreage this week. Several counties in the north that previously reported abnormally dry conditions did not report this week. About .1% of the state reported areas of moderate drought. Overall, 12% of the state reported abnormally dry conditions or worse, a 22% improvement from last week.
The northern half of Minnesota reported the most precipitation this week, with Lake County receiving an average of over 8.5 inches. Several other northern counties received over 4 inches. The southwestern corner received the lowest precipitation totals, with less than .5 inch reported. The rest of the state reported around 1.5 inches.
Minnesota topsoil moisture levels were rated 2% very short, 7% short, 64% adequate, and 27% surplus. Minnesota subsoil levels were rated 2% very short, 17% short, 63% adequate, and 18% surplus.
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Missouri’s dry acreage expanded slightly this week. A portion of Atchison County in the northwestern corner and Barton, Vernon, and Jasper counties in the west were abnormally dry, accounting for less than 1% of the state.
The southern edge of the state received an average of 2 inches of precipitation this week, with Barry County receiving over 3 inches. Most of Missouri reported an average of 1 inch of rain, with Bates County in the west reporting the least precipitation, just over .25 inch.
The April 25 Crop Progress Report noted that Missouri topsoil moisture levels were rated 1% very short, 1% short, 71% adequate, and 27% surplus. Missouri subsoil levels were rated as 2% very short, 6% short, 81% adequate, and 11% surplus.
Nebraska saw a slight intensification of drought conditions in the east side of the state. Severe conditions expanded this week, accounting for 53% of the state. About 99% of the state reports abnormally dry conditions or worse.
This week, two bands in the center of Nebraska received no precipitation, though the rest of the state reported an average of about 1 inch. Several counties scattered across Nebraska received over 1 inch, a significantly higher total than previous weeks, including Platt, Sheridan, Cherry, Nance, and Burt counties.
Nebraska topsoil moisture levels were rated 45% very short, 37% short, 18% adequate, and 0% surplus. Nebraska subsoil levels were rated 40% very short, 44% short, 16% adequate, and 0% surplus.
Indiana remained drought-free in the seven-day period, with no dry or drought warnings since October 5.
This week, the state saw less than 1 inch of precipitation, on average. In the south, Knox, Sullivan, and Gibson counties received the most precipitation, averaging 3 inches. In the east, Wayne reported less than .25 inch, the lowest in the state.
The Crop Progress Report indicated Indiana topsoil moisture levels were rated 0% very short, 1% short, 55% adequate, and 44% surplus. Indiana subsoil levels were rated 1% very short, 2% short, 59% adequate, and 36% surplus.
Ohio has not reported any drought conditions since the beginning of 2022, and conditions remain unchanged. The state has reported no worse than abnormally dry conditions since January 2020.
The state saw an average of 1.5 inches of precipitation on the eastern half, and .5 inch on the western half. Richland and Morrow counties in the center of the state reported just over 3 inches, the most in the seven-day period.
Ohio topsoil moisture levels were rated 0% very short, 2% short, 65% adequate, and 33% surplus. Ohio subsoil levels were rated 0% very short, 1% short, 70% adequate, and 29% surplus.
South Dakota reported a slight lessening of drought conditions. The middle section of the state reported severe drought conditions, which shrunk this week, accounting for 25% of the state. Overall, 86% of the state reported abnormally dry conditions or worse.
Most of the state reported precipitation, averaging 1.75 inches. The southeastern corner, accounting for about a quarter of South Dakota, reported little to no precipitation this week. Butte County in the west reported over 3 inches of precipitation.
The April 25 Crop Progress Report showed South Dakota topsoil moisture levels were rated 18% very short, 35% short, 41% adequate, and 6% surplus. South Dakota subsoil levels were rated 19% very short, 37% short, 40% adequate, and 4% surplus.