Ag meteorologist: Early thaw, steady rain could jump start crops
A winter snow storm could mean little to the frozen soil, said Bryce Anderson, an ag specialist, but could help replenish bodies of water.
Farm shows are often a time where farmers can share ideas with each other, and ask questions.
The big question that's being asked across the Midwest: "When is the drought going to end?"
Kent Thiesen has farmed for decades. Last summer's drought ravaged many parts of Northwest Iowa, but his corn and soybean farm in Clay County did okay.
"We were fortunate in this area last year to have a little subsoil moisture going into the spring and fortunate that those rains that we got in the springs and early summer that carried us into the fall," said Thiesen.
Bryce Anderson, an ag meteorologist, came to the Northwest Iowa Ag show to offer perspective to farmers coping with the drought. He says the drought is starting to lift in some parts of the Midwest, but not northwest Iowa yet.
"We've seen big droughts in the past that have taken their own sweet time, in terms of letting up in the upper Midwest," said Anderson.
With several inches of snow expected to hit later in the week, some wondered if that moisture can help feed the dry ground, with drought levels that Anderson says are comparable to the 1950s.
"The assistance of that is going to be very minimal because the ground is frozen," said Anderson.
Thiesen agrees. He says the winter storm is probably not going to do much to replenish this soil, but the runoff could go to his pond, which is about two feet below normal.
"We had pretty good soil reserves a year ago, but that bank account is gone," said Anderson
Anderson says the area will need rain by June to have a good year. Milder temperatures could help a little bit, since soil reserves are depleted. Meanwhile, Thiesen hopes for an early thaw to get his corn and soybeans off to a good start.
"I'm hoping that the frost goes out early and that we get a rain during that time of the year that helps take the frost out," said Thiesen.
Still, if that doesn't happen, Thiesen isn't ready to hit the panic button.
"It may be my age showing, but we've been through this before. My sons will get through it again," said Thiesen.
Anderson says the moisture deficit is about 10 to 12 inches below normal for most of northwest Iowa now. He says, ideally, a thaw later this month or in early March, followed by steady rains, would be best for the soil.
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