Drought conditions in west-central Iowa have grown worse as recent rainstorms missed that area of the state. Parts or all of 15 counties are now in severe drought stages, according to USDA. During the last 30 days, some parts of west-central Iowa have received as little as half an inch of rain. Normally, 4 to 5 inches of rain would have fallen during that stretch.
Some other parts of the state, such as southwest Iowa, and Polk and Dallas counties in central Iowa, are in moderate drought as of July 24. Dennis Todey, climatologist with USDA’s Midwest Climate Hub at Ames, says the heat and lack of rain are starting to stress crops.
With most of western Iowa experiencing some form of drought, specialists with Iowa State University Extension are partnering with USDA and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to offer a series of webinars on Thursdays.
Webinars start July 30
Beginning July 30, the group will begin an initiative to help answer key questions regarding the development of drought in western Iowa, the expectation for continued hot and dry weather, and impacts on row crops and forages.
Attendees will get information to help them better manage livestock and drought-stressed forages, prepare for use of alternative forages, understand important crop insurance and marketing decisions, and plan for harvest of a drought-stressed crop.
“The crop condition in west-central Iowa has been declining with continued dry conditions and higher temperatures,” says Mark Licht, ISU Extension cropping systems agronomist. “This webinar series will provide insight into current weather patterns and approaches to proactively make decisions as crop progress continues to develop.
“While there is really no crop management decision to be made, this webinar series will help plan for potential forage options, estimating yield potential, and planning for harvest and storage of the existing crop.”
40% in moderate to severe drought
According to the latest report on July 23 from the U.S. Drought Monitor, more than half of Iowa is considered “abnormally dry” and nearly 40% of the state is in moderate to severe drought — with the worst conditions in west-central Iowa.
“Precipitation deficits have been accumulating across the drought region over the last several months,” says Justin Glisan, state climatologist at the Iowa Department of Agriculture. “With sparse rainfall and unseasonably warm temperatures, conditions have continued to deteriorate, rapidly in some parts of west-central Iowa locations.”
Topics will include a general weather update, drought monitor updates, pasture and hay shortages, preparing for silage and nitrates, yield estimates, and end-of-year considerations related to grain quality and storage.
Along with Licht and Glisan, speakers will include Dennis Todey, director of the USDA Midwest Climate Hub at Ames; Aaron Saeugling, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach in southwest Iowa; Chad Hart, professor of economics and extension grain market specialist at Iowa State, and various other speakers.
The webinars will run from 1 to 2 p.m. on July 30, Aug. 6, Aug. 13 and Aug. 30. They are intended for crop farmers and livestock producers in drought-affected areas, ag service providers and ag retailers, farm managers, ag lenders, and anyone impacted by drought conditions in Iowa. The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and Iowa Corn Growers Association are sponsoring the series.
Registration is free but is required for participation and can be completed at any time during the series. A single registration allows for participation in any or all sessions.
In addition to the webinar series, local specialists are offering drought meetings in some of the most seriously affected counties from Aug. 3 to 7.