‘Very high’ crop fire danger for northwest Iowa

By: - October 3, 2022 5:29 pm

A combine harvests soybeans in western Iowa. (Photo by Jared Strong/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

There was almost no rainfall in Iowa this past week, and the risk of fires associated with harvest are elevated in the western part of the state, according to the National Weather Service.

There now are “very high” risks of cropland fires in areas of northwest Iowa, the service says.

“Though portions of northern Iowa received its first widespread freeze last week, drier and warmer conditions are expected to persist for the foreseeable future and farmers should remain vigilant about combine and field fire risks,” said Mike Naig, the state’s secretary of agriculture.

So far, there have been at least three fires in northwest and northeast Iowa associated with this year’s harvest.

Statewide, the average rainfall last week was .01 inches, according to a Monday report from State Climatologist Justin Glisan. Typically, about three-quarters of an inch of rain falls in a week this time of year. This past week was also about 4 degrees cooler than normal.

About 11% of the state’s corn crop had been harvested as of Sunday, and 26% of soybeans were harvested, according to a Monday report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Both remaining crops in the field were rated 61% good to excellent, a slight drop from last week. Dry conditions have worsened statewide, with “extreme” drought spreading across northwest Iowa. In that region, less than a fifth of farmland has adequate moisture for growing crops.

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register. His investigative work exposing police misconduct has notched several state and national awards. He is a longtime trustee of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, which fights for open records and open government. He is a lifelong Iowan and has lived mostly in rural western parts of the state.