116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — Recent rains appear to have brought much-needed relief to some parched areas of Iowa, but overall conditions continue to deteriorate, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday.
Iowa's most-recent map shows 83 percent of the state in some form of dryness or drought, with slightly more than a third of Iowa experiencing severe drought — mostly in northwest and north-central counties.
The driest conditions now cover all or parts of 45 counties with two-thirds of the state rated in severe or moderate drought and 22 counties reporting normal conditions.
At the beginning of June, just over 62 percent of Iowa was rated at some level of dryness or drought, with 7.6 percent in the severe category.
Weather officials indicate the last time that the overall statewide drought conditions were worse than this week was in early September 2020.
Streamflow is dropping across the state, especially in the central and northwestern regions, according to the latest Iowa water summary issued by the state Department of Natural Resources and other government agencies.
June normally is the wettest month of the year for most of Iowa, but last month ended with 3.31 inches of rain — almost 2 inches less than average. The month of June was also warmer than normal, which contributed to greater evaporation and then to drier conditions, the summary indicated.
The last time Iowa had a drier June was in 2012, a year marked by extreme drought in Iowa.
Groundwater, soil conditions
Also, groundwater conditions continue to be below normal across all but the far southeast corner of Iowa.
The northwest and central portions of the state are well below normal, and voluntary water conservation is being implemented in some communities, according to the latest summary.
Meanwhile, soil moisture levels across the state have continued to decline. One year ago, 16 percent of subsoil moisture in Iowa was rated as short or very short. As of Tuesday, that number was 63 percent.
"The hope was for normal rain in June, but we ended up almost two inches short for the month. Some rain was good, but more is needed to reverse the trend toward drier conditions in the state,” said Tim Hall, coordinator of DNR hydrology resources.
“Unfortunately, we are entering the time of the year when water demand goes up, so more rainfall is needed in the weeks ahead."
The latest Iowa Crop Progress and Condition report released this week by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service rated half of Iowa's topsoil to be short or very short of moisture, with 48 percent adequate and 2 percent surplus.
Moisture levels varied widely as subsoil moisture levels in northwest Iowa rated 84 percent short to very short while levels in southeast Iowa rated 84 percent adequate to surplus.
Recent spotty rains benefited crops, but farmers reported more moisture is needed, especially in the northern two-thirds of Iowa.
Across the state, there were scattered reports of corn in the silk stage with the crop rated 62 percent good to excellent, according to the USDA report.
Also, 39 percent of soybeans in Iowa were blooming and about 5 percent setting pods — both ahead of normal development, with 59 percent of the overall soybean crop rated good to excellent.
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