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Parts of the state seeing stress in crops from lack of rain

(Radio Iowa) – Rain fell in parts of Iowa this weekend providing some much needed moisture to Iowa corn and soybean fields, but the showers were isolated, for soil that has been drying back out. Iowa State Extension Agronomist Clark McGrath covers the counties from Carroll to the Missouri border.

He says it’s dry, but conditions are better than last year. “Last year at this time, it was entire fields, and this year, luckily, it’s portions of fields. So, yeah, we could us moisture,” McGrath says. “But after talking to people from across the state — actually RAGBRAI just came through and I talked to farmers from southeast Iowa and east-central Iowa — and they said that they felt like southwest Iowa here was some of the best stuff they’d seen, and I kinda agree with that.”

Joel DeJong is another extension agronomist who covers nine-western-Iowa counties from Sibley to Missouri Valley. He says the rain is important as the corn crop hits a critical stage.

“We’re entering that time period when it’s the most critical time period. It’s at pollination where we really determine where how many kernels we end up with on those ears. The next five weeks after that, it’s kernel fill, but the next four weeks determines what our ultimate potential is,” Dejong explains.

“And so, if we can’t get rainfall we would like to bring our average daily temperatures down into that highs into the lower to mid-80s rather than the lower to mid 90s because, that drops daily moisture demand almost in half.” Dejong says the crops are showing moisture stress.

“We haven’t had but a half inch of rain in the last three, four weeks, so we’re starting to see more and more on a daily basis, those plants curling, particularly in the corn fields — and in the lighter soils — the corn is basically turning white,” according to DeJong. He says the plants need an inch of rain daily at this stage of their growth.