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Severe drought covers 40% of Iowa

Nearly all of Iowa is suffering from dry conditions and farmers’ concerns are growing. According to the June 15 drought monitor maps, 40% of the Hawkeye state reported severe drought. An additional 35% of the state is suffering from moderate drought, and abnormally dry conditions cover 19% of the state.

“Unseasonably warm temperatures and limited rainfall led to an increase in drought conditions across the state,” said Iowa secretary of agriculture Mike Naig early this week.

Map of Iowa drought conditions
Photo credit: U.S. drought monitor

Temperatures were as high as 10°F. above average between June 8 and 15, according to data from the Iowa Environmental Mesonet. During the same period, no precipitation was recorded across many central Iowa counties. A handful of counties on the extreme western and eastern sides of the state recorded an inch or more of precipitation.

Map of Iowa temperature departures
Photo credit: Iowa Environmental Mesonet

The June 14 Crop Progress report showed topsoil moisture levels rated 24% very short, 46% short, 30% adequate, and 0% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 21% very short, 50% short, 29% adequate, and 0% surplus. Subsoil moisture conditions in northwest, north-central, west-central, central, and south-central Iowa rated close to 80% short to very short.

Map of Iowa precipitation
Photo credit: Iowa Environmental Mesonet

“Early planted crops are starting to show moisture stress, and the short-term forecast shows only minor chances of precipitation. We’re working with other state agencies, ISU Extension and Outreach, and farmers to continue monitoring the situation,” added Naig.

Kelly Garrett farms corn and soybeans near Arion, Iowa, and is experiencing moderate drought this season. “I’m concerned that one of my surface water reservoirs will not have enough water to irrigate all season if we stay this dry,” he said Monday.

Photo of corn in Iowa in June
Photo credit: XtremeAg

Dry conditions allowed for 6.6 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending June 13, according to the latest Crop Progress Report. Farmers wrapped up planting, sprayed post emergence herbicides, sidedressed nitrogen, and harvested hay.

Iowa Corn Progress

Corn emergence is nearly complete at 99%, except for some replanted fields.

The Iowa corn crop was rated 1% very poor, 4% poor, 32% fair, 54% good, 9% excellent on Monday.

Corn in Crawford County is rolling, desperate for moisture. Temperatures are pushing triple digits and winds are drying out any remaining moisture in the soil. “The corn really hasn’t rolled in this area since 2013," explains Garrett. “Last year was dry and there isn’t enough subsoil moisture available at this point in the season. We need a good rain pretty bad right now.”

Corn rolling in 100 degree heat on a June day in Iowa
Photo credit: XtremeAg

Iowa Soybean Progress

Soybean planting is nearly complete at 99%, except for some re-plant acres.

Iowa soybeans reached 93% emerged, ahead of the 83% five-year average and 92% last year.

There were scattered reports of soybeans blooming.

Iowa soybean field in June 2021
Photo credit: Megan Schilling

Tony Lem farms near Slater, Iowa, and is surprised his soybeans are doing as well as they are given the lack of precipitation.

The state’s soybean crop was rated 1% very poor, 6% poor, 32% fair, 53% good, and 8% excellent on Monday.

Iowa Oats Progress

Iowa’s oat crop is 56% headed, said the June 14 Crop Progress Report. Heading is ahead of 39% last year and the 46% five-year average. Across Iowa, oats are starting to turn color.

The state’s oat crop was rated 2% very poor, 5% poor, 36% fair, 46% good, and 11% excellent on Monday.

Iowa Hay Progress

The first cutting of alfalfa hay reached 87% complete.

Hay condition fell this week to 3% very poor, 8% poor, 34% fair, 44% good, and 11% excellent.

Iowa Pasture and Range

Monday’s Crop Progress Report indicated a drop in pasture and range condition to 5% very poor, 15% poor, 39% fair, 36% good, and 5% excellent. High temperatures were stressful for livestock.

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