Iowa drought expected to continue through winter

Farmers concerned for spring planting

The U.S. drought that ruined crops over the summer and has caused significant problems for farmers is expected to continue in Iowa through the winter and into 2013, according to government weather reports.

Currently, 69 percent of Iowa is in severe to exceptional drought, an improvement over the 100 percent reported in August. During the winter months, conditions are expected to improve in the eastern part of Iowa but persist or intensify in the western two-thirds of the state, where conditions already are the worst, according to reports. “We’re expecting persistence of that drought through the winter months and through early spring, and with the climate signals being relatively weak … it’s very difficult to really say how the spring will materialize with regard to the drought outlook,” said Jon Gottschalck, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center.

Since farmers plant the majority of their corn between mid-April and mid-May, and their soybeans between mid-May and early June, they are concerned that a poor winter could affect their sowing. “We are still very short of subsoil moisture or reserve moisture that our crop will be able to tap into unless we get normal or above-normal snowfall during the winter,” said Justin Dammann, a southwest Iowa corn and cattle farmer. “I’m concerned also as far as next year because we seem to be in a pattern of weather extremes, and they are hard to manage from a crop production standpoint.”