Even with recent rains, drought conditions persist

This weekend’s showers dumped up to seven inches of rain on parts of Iowa, while many areas stayed dry, but even with the scattered downpours, drought conditions persist over wide sections of the state.

Angie Rieck Hinz, an Iowa State University field agronomist, says that’s typical and it’s bringing a drastic variation in crop conditions statewide.

“Some areas get a lot of rain, some areas get adequate rain, some areas get no rain,” she says, “and so there are fields that are obviously exhibiting drought stress and then there are fields that look pretty good. It is highly erratic out there this year.”

Rieck Hinz is touring parts of north-central Iowa to inspect crops and says the drought isn’t keeping insects away from the fields.

“We have some spider mites in some places, we have rootworm beetles feeding, they’ve chewed on roots, they’ve emerged and they’re out there, some more severe in some fields than others,” Rieck Hinz says, “and we do have a few leaf diseases out there.”

Soybean aphids are problematic for some growers, while soybean gall midges are being found for the first time this season in three more counties: Kossuth, Humboldt and Webster. Rieck Hinz says a few crop diseases are thriving in the heat.

“There’s a little northern corn leaf blight out there, there’s a little gray leaf spot out there, there’s a little bit of tar spot here and there,” she says, “and so for those areas that have tended to stay drier, that disease development just isn’t going to happen under those dry conditions.”

A new report is expected later this morning from the U-S Drought Monitor. Last week’s map shows more than 60 of the state’s 99 counties in some form of drought, with 13 northwest Iowa counties in either severe or extreme drought conditions.

(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s Matt Kelley)