Rain Makes Mud, And That Is Good

Iowa Farm Scene

Iowa farmers are itching to plant and the state got much-needed rain this week, but you don't hear anyone complaining.

Published on: April 12, 2013

The drought has been steadily lifting, and even in the northern and western Corn Belt, farmers are finally getting what they've needed -- some rain. It's at least a start at recharging subsoil moisture supplies in the driest areas. The rains are nine months too late for last year's crop, but with 2013 planting just around the corner, rain that fell on Iowa and western Corn Belt states this week was indeed welcome.

Of course, one good rain doesn't break a drought and while snow and heavy rains that recently swept across the Midwest during the first half of April are contributing much-needed moisture, cold and wet soil conditions have kept farmers out of fields while the rest of the world anxiously watches.

READY TO PLANT: This weeks rain was the most in a single week since June 2011 and is lessening the drought across Iowa. Drought has eased its grip in central and eastern Iowa, as rains soak in and replenish subsoil moisture. The U.S. Drought Monitor website shows drought has eased in central Iowa and is gone away in much of the states eastern third, but is hanging on in Iowas northwest corner. Soil temperatures have been too cold to plant. They should be 50 degrees F or more at 4-inch depth, with a warm weather trend in the forecast, say ISU agronomists.
READY TO PLANT: This week's rain was the most in a single week since June 2011 and is lessening the drought across Iowa. Drought has eased its grip in central and eastern Iowa, as rains soak in and replenish subsoil moisture. The U.S. Drought Monitor website shows drought has eased in central Iowa and is gone away in much of the state's eastern third, but is hanging on in Iowa's northwest corner. Soil temperatures have been too cold to plant. They should be 50 degrees F or more at 4-inch depth, with a warm weather trend in the forecast, say ISU agronomists.

A farmer in Keokuk County in southeast Iowa planted 200 acres of corn the weekend of April 6-7. That's the most corn Wallaces Farmer has heard of that's been planted yet this spring in Iowa. Why plant so early? The ground was working well and soil temperature was at 50 degrees. He was itching to get some corn in the ground and hoping warm weather would continue. But that's not the way the weather turned out this past week. It got cold and wet.

Next week's drought monitor report may not show any "extreme drought" in Iowa
The amount of rain that fell from last Sunday (April 7) into Thursday morning (4 days) in Iowa was more than any of the weekly (7 day) totals going back to June 2011. The statewide average was 2.6 inches this week for April 7 to 11. "And some areas of Iowa had significantly more," says Harry Hillaker, state climatologist at the Iowa Department of Agriculture. Dubuque had 4.6 inches. Out of 500 weather stations in Iowa, only Glenwood had less than an inch of rain.

 

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"That's a lot of rain Iowa has received in a few days this week and it came after the ground thawed, allowing water to soak in," notes Hillaker. Next week's drought monitor report will look a lot different. It may not have any "extreme drought" listed. River levels in Iowa have risen considerably, but wells will recover more slowly, he adds. And soil temperatures are still too cold for planting.