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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — Drought conditions persist in some parts of Iowa, but substantial weekend rainstorms “took the edge off” concerns over developing corn and soybean crops, state officials said Monday.
At the same time, hail and strong winds that accompanied thunderstorms bringing welcomed precipitation created new issues in some parts of Iowa where weather officials are redrawing the boundaries on the locations still facing ongoing severe drought and dryness, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service weekly crop report issued Monday.
“The drought has been building in the state since the latter part of 2019, so we’ve been working into this drought situation for 18 months,” said Tim Hall, coordinator of hydrology resources for the state Department of Natural Resources. “One rain storm on one weekend is not going to cure us of the issue, but it certainly is encouraging and moves us in the direction we want to be in.”
State Climatologist Justin Glisan said a majority of Iowa’s reporting stations observed above-average rainfall, with parts of southern Iowa measuring amounts from 1 to 3 inches above average.
Weekly precipitation totals in inches ranged from 0.14 at Waterloo to 4.8 in Adair County. The statewide weekly average precipitation was 1.89 inches, while the normal is about 0.8.
Some parts of Iowa got more rain over the weekend than they did during the entire month of May, said Hall, who likened the effect of the 2 to 3 inches reported around Iowa to a teacher who calls a parent to inform them their straight-D student now is getting C grades.
“We would say that’s improvement but it’s not where we want to be yet,” he said. “It takes the edge off of some really critical situations that potentially could have developed. It buys us time to wait for some more rain so it’s great.”
“What we saw this weekend was just about perfect. It was decent rainfall that came over a fairly long period of time so we didn’t have flash flooding. So it was really good,” Hall added. “It’s going to build up the soil moisture, it’s going to build up the shallow groundwater, it’s going to build up the stream flow. But it’s going to be several months before we start to look back at the drought and say, ‘Well I’m glad that’s over.’ ”
But right now, he said, most of Iowa is at least 5 inches — if not 10 to 15 inches — behind for the last 18 months, and weekly rains averaging eight-tenths of an inch to 1.5 inches are needed in July, August and into September to get back to normal precipitation amounts of about 4 inches per month.
“If we get rainfall that’s normal to above normal throughout the balance of the summer into the fall, we could see a complete turnaround on drought conditions by the end of the fall,” Hall noted. “So it’s probably not going to be July, it’s probably not going to be August, it’s probably going to be September or October before we start to find ourselves on the other side of the drought issue.”
Topsoil moisture levels rated 9 percent very short, 31 percent short, 56 percent adequate and 4 percent surplus, while 56 percent of subsoil moisture levels were rated short to very short with 42 percent adequate, according to the latest Iowa crop report.
Iowa’s corn condition improved slightly to 66 percent good to excellent while the soybean crop’s rating was 65 percent good to excellent.
“This past week’s widespread rainfall brought much-needed relief to farmers as the crop enters an important period in the growing season,” Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig said. “Forecasts continue to show promising chances of rain and seasonal temperatures in the week ahead.”
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