The area of Iowa where last year’s drought was most severe has gotten welcome moisture in recent weeks. Iowa State University’s spring survey in northwest Iowa found subsoil moisture levels rose five inches since tests last fall.
ISU extension agronomist Joel De Jong says some parts of the region are almost fully recharged. They “actually had numbers in the 8.5 to 9.5, almost 10-inch range in several of those counties,” De Jong says.
“Got up close to Minnesota and it was only a little over 6. A lot of those sites are actually getting pretty full.” April rains contributed greatly to rebuilding those levels, and Iowa set a new record high for precipitation on average statewide during the month.
De Jong says going further west, the levels drop a bit but are still show a fairly good recharge. The “lowest site was northwest, Plymouth County, not too far from the Big Sioux River, that was only at about 4.8 inches, so we could use some recharge there yet,” De Jong says. “Western Sioux County was under seven, Lyon County’s site was just a shade over seven.”
De Jong says at full capacity at the top five feet, between 10 to 11 inches of moisture is needed. He says even though planting has been delayed, there’s still plenty of time to get the corn in with May 20 being the target date.