‘We need rainfall’
It’s no surprise it is dry out, but just how are these drier conditions affecting the agricultural industry and what could this mean for the consumer?
Dennis Todey, director of the United States Department of Agriculture Midwest Climate Hub, said precipitation for spring has been dramatically lower than average.
“We have parts of central Iowa that have received no or almost no precipitation in the first part of June,” he said. “June, climatology speaking, is our peak precipitation month.”
These conditions could almost be labeled unprecedented.
Todey said data compiled by Justin Glisan, state climatologist for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, said it appears, so far, 2021 can be comparable to 1988 and 1933.
Fortunately, it appears temperatures will be cooler than average going into early next week and Todey said the cool-down could last through the end of the month.
“It will feel more comfortable. It will be better for plants,” he said.
But will that be enough?
Todey said the real need right now is moisture.
“The cooler temperatures prolong the issue. We need rainfall,” he said.
There are some chances for rainfall in the next week to 10 day outlook.
“We have several chances for precipitation,” Todey said. “That is the good news. The unfortunate news is that this is summertime precipitation, so we are probably going to have some winners and losers”
In the case of summertime precipitation, Todey said some might receive an inch or two of rain, while others will get nothing.
The key will be for the rains to be consistent and often. But the outlook is not showing much potential.
“Because the soils are so dry, we need to continue getting rainfalls over the next several weeks and the indications show that we donát see that is necessarily going to continue,” he said. “We are not seeing a pattern that is going to keep it going.”
The most recent Drought Monitor was released Thursday. Todey said it shows the southern half of Webster County is labeled “D2” which is a severe drought. The north half of the county is listed “D1” moderate drought.
“It’s just not good anywhere,” he said.
What does this all mean for crop conditions?
Angie Rieck-Hinz, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach field agronomist, said the dry conditions are affecting all of the crops in her region of Calhoun, Webster, Hamilton, Hardin, Humboldt, Wright, Franklin, Cerro Gordo and Worth counties.
“I am seeing corn rolling early in the morning in some places,” she said.
There are a few factors that could be causing this, including a shallow planting depth, but a lot of it is being pointed to the dry conditions.
“Nearly all corn is exhibiting stress by early afternoon. Beans are short. Alfalfa regrowth is slow and pastures are starting to turn brown,” she said.
The dry spell, Rieck-Hinz said, started last year and has not let up. As of June 14, reports are showing 33 percent of north central Iowaás topsoil moisture is very short and 46 percent of topsoil moisture is rated as short.
“Rains are extremely scattered and when rain is received, it highly varies in amount,”she said.
Although producers were aware of the dry conditions that carried over from last year, they all had an ideal beginning to the growing season.
“Corn and soybean planting got off to a great start,” said Rieck-Hinz. “Corn planting by May 23 was 97 percent complete two weeks ahead of the five year average and soybean planting was about 15 days ahead of average.”
Between two frost events in May that caused issues with crop damage in some places and now the concerns of a continued drought, producers have had to face a harsh reality that what started out great, may not end that way.
Right now is a crucial time for plant growth and the lack of moisture is having a huge impact.
Soybeans are short due to the dry conditions. Not only may this affect overall yields, oftentimes the plant grows enough to shade rows and help conserve water by reducing evaporation off the soil surface.
Other concerns, Rieck-Hinz said, are the development of the plant. Typically at the stage some of the corn is in, or will soon be reaching, the corn ears are being initiated and the number of rows of corn around the cob are being determined.