Intermittent rains and cooler temperatures led to an improved crop-growing outlook for Iowa, although much of northwest and north-central Iowa still face severe to moderate drought or abnormally dry conditions, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor issued Thursday.
Slightly more than one-third of Iowa showed severe drought compared to 44 percent last week.
Still, 80 of Iowa’s 99 counties are experiencing some form of drought, ranging from abnormally dry to moderate or severe.
Only 19 counties in southeast Iowa are reporting normal or near-normal moisture conditions, while about two-thirds of the state — in northwest, north central, northeast and central Iowa — are dry.
“While we saw some improvement across the state in terms of drought conditions, the recent rainfall was in no way a drought buster for the driest parts of the state; namely northwestern Iowa,” said State Climatologist Justin Glisan from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.
“We will need consistent and above-average precipitation events over the next several months, if not a year, to completely chip away at the 12 to 18-inch precipitation deficits in western Iowa,” he said. “Measurable rainfall is always encouraging if it falls at an efficient rate, which allows it to soak in instead of running off. Rainfall over the last 10 days was also timely for crop usage, given the hot and dry first half of June.”
Volatile weather and record-breaking heat in some parts of the nation caused changes for more than 30 states in the latest U.S. Drought Monitor. But multiple rounds of heavy rain across the Midwest led to large-scale improvements, though drought remains a concern.
Earlier this week, Iowa ag experts noted that even with the beneficial rains, almost half of Iowa is rated short or very short of subsoil moisture
Topsoil moisture levels were rated 12% very short, with 82% short to adequate, and 6% in surplus.