In mid-June, farmers in western Iowa were looking for just enough rain to keep their spirits up.
Early July has brought some of those much-needed rains, and while drought conditions are still prevalent, things are looking up for the 2021 crop.
“Since July 2 or thereabouts we’ve had 3.2 inches (of rain), so it’s really a change from the hot and dry June,” Spencer, Iowa, farmer and retired Iowa State Extension agronomist Paul Kassel said. “It’s become pretty moderate, and things are totally different.”
While the western part of the state has seen a dramatic shift, north central Iowa is still deep within the severe drought category of the U.S. Drought Monitor as of July 15. Kassel’s Spencer farm is within that section, and while there is more optimism, he said the rain can’t stop now.
“It’s still dry,” he said. “I think we’ll probably have a kind of normal crop. Maybe not the best we could have had, but things look good right now. The lawns and road ditches are greened up. You wouldn’t know there was a drought if you drove through here now.”
While the northern half of the state recovers from drought, the eastern and southern portions of Iowa have seen stellar conditions this year so far.
“Where we live, we’ve been very blessed,” Davenport, Iowa, farmer Robb Ewoldt said. “We’ve caught rains when a lot of people didn’t. It wasn’t bad to be a little dry in June — we saw the corn roll up maybe two or three days, but that was it.”
Ewoldt said the weather has cooperated for him for spraying as well, allowing him to limit any outside pressure from pests and weeds. The only major issue to pop up in his fields has been in his non-GMO soybean field.
“Marestail is a nightmare this year,” he said. “It feels like we can’t control it anymore. That’s becoming a bigger issue for us than the waterhemp.”
Ewoldt said he isn’t going to take this season for granted.
“It’s good prices and right now, there appears to be a really good crop coming,” he said. “You don’t normally get those two things at the same time.”
The good news continues in southern Iowa as well, as plenty of moisture has optimism at a high in that region.
Iowa State Extension field agronomist Clarabell Knapp said the crop is looking good in Southern Iowa, but there is almost too much moisture leading to yellowed soybean crops.
“Fields are starting to look a little yellow because it’s so waterlogged,” she said. “There’s just not a lot of air flowing through them. Some people are nervous about nitrogen levels.”
Despite the excess moisutre, weed pressure has been limited in the southern Iowa fields, she said, calling it an average year. Insects have also been limited, but japanese beetle pressure is starting to increase as the season moves along.
“They are starting to come along, but this is on schedule,” she said.