Are Your Tile Lines Running Yet?

Iowa Farm Scene

We asked that question of farmers attending 2013 Iowa Master Farmer Awards Day.

Published on: March 18, 2013

Come planting time in Iowa, the last half of April and first half of May, when we are concerned about whether it will be wet or dry for planting here, we need to look at what the weather was three or four weeks earlier in Arkansas. "If weather in Arkansas was persistent in March, either wet or dry, it'll likely be the same type of weather here in Iowa when the weather migrates north to Iowa a month later," says Taylor.

Climatologists can't yet say drought is over in Iowa, but recent rains and snow have helped
We can't yet say the drought is over in Iowa but recent rain and snow have brought some relief to other Corn Belt states and to some areas of Iowa too, notes Taylor.

The U.S drought monitor map released March 14 shows the portion of Iowa ranked from "moderate to exceptionally" severe drought was reduced from nearly 100% a week earlier to 75% as of March 12. Northwest Iowa continues to be the driest part of the state. All of Iowa was still listed in at least "abnormally dry" condition as of March 12, when the new weekly U.S. Drought Monitor map was issued.

In 2012, the worst drought in at least a half a century left 90% of Iowa's subsoil in the moisture-deficient category going into 2013. It continued that way through winter. Recently, most of Iowa received at least 2 inches of moisture in the form of rain and snow the weekend of March 9-10. But the impact of that moisture is uncertain because the ground was still frozen in the Midwest. While Iowa and Minnesota continue with drought as of March 14, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana have largely recovered, according to the weekly Drought Monitor map. For weekly updates visit www.droughtmonitor.unl.edu.

"Iowa still has a long way to go to relieve what has been the worst drought in a half-century, but much of the state has received some much needed precipitation since January 1," notes ISU's Taylor. The Des Moines area has received almost 4 inches of precipitation since the start of 2013, an inch over the normal 2.92 inches usually received by mid-March. Waterloo has received 5.35 inches, which is more than double the normal 2.37 inches. Mason City's 3.04 inches is well above its normal 2.37 inches; the 5.15 inches that's fallen on Ottumwa is higher than its 2.85 inch average.