Expert: Iowa’s drought likely to remain at least through July

By: - July 1, 2021 3:20 pm

Drought conditions persist in the Midwest. (Photo via Pixabay)

Despite a bit of rain, Iowa’s drought worsened in the past month, an expert told the Iowa Farmers Union Thursday.

Dennis Todey, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Midwest Climate Hub, said the prospects for the rest of the summer are hard to forecast. At best, Iowa would get enough rain to hold off an even worse drought, he predicted.

“Coming into this year, we had dry soils, so we had concerns,” Todey said. “It’s not gotten any better. It’s actually gotten worse.” Higher than average temperatures, 6 to 8 degrees higher in some places, have not helped, he added.

The drought is the worst in 20 years, Todey said. And the long-term forecasts don’t call for much rain in the Midwest in the next week, he added. 

“There won’t be a lot of improvement for anyone. The odds are that Iowa stays in some kind of drought” at least through July, Todey said.

Iowa’s drought has eased somewhat but persists. (Image courtesy of U.S. Drought Monitor)

Southern Iowa has received more rain and isn’t as dry as central and northern Iowa, Todey said. 

To the north, including the Dakotas, farmers have sold cattle because of shortages of feed and water, he added. Fire risks have grown. 

The U.S. Drought Monitor this week listed 85.6% of the Iowa in some kind of drought, down from 92.5% the week before. Three months ago, that figure stood at 41%.

None of Iowa is classified in the two most severe categories of drought.

Todey said corn plants are approaching the tassel stage, making the lack of moisture more of a problem. 

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Perry Beeman
Perry Beeman

Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.