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Weather cooperating with crops

By Staff | Aug 27, 2015

By KRISS NELSON

jknelson@frontiernet.net

The weather for the 2015 growing season in Iowa can best be described as too wet, too dry or just about right – depending on which part of the state one is farming.

Harry Hillaker, state climatologist, said that although certain parts of Iowa have experienced some extreme conditions, the crops have been maturing rather nicely.

“In general, it’s been a pretty good year in Iowa,” said Hillaker. “A lot of farmers started with timely planting and most got their crops planted on time this year, for the most part.”

After a cooperative spring, Hillaker said the growing season has been accommodating as well.

“We haven’t had any real stress; no prolonged heat with some reasonably frequent rainfall in most of the state,” he said. “However there have been some very wet conditions south of I-80.

“They were very, very wet both June and July otherwise there has only been some wet conditions like that in scattered places.”

Where the southern part of the state seems to be drenched, other parts are beginning to beg for some rain.

Parts of northwest and northeast Iowa, Hillaker said, has been dry for the past two to three months, but crops seem to be progressing OK – for now.

“It’s been dryer up there but things are still doing quite well in that area,” he said. “But, much of northern Iowa really could use some rain in the next week or two.”

Particularly northwest Iowa, Hillaker said, has had a hard time receiving timely end-of-the-growing-season moisture the last few years and is looking to be in that predicament again if some decent rain doesn’t fall soon.

Hillaker said weather patterns are looking to be dry and warm; which is contradictory of “showing opposite of 30- to 90-day outlooks,” he said. “Those are showing cool and wet conditions, but it is looking, for now, to be hot and dry.

“But there is a lot of dilemma out there, this could just be a temporary blip, we usually don’t see a big change in weather, at least not until September when the jet stream gets stronger.”

Hillaker said the existing El Nino weather pattern seems to be a strong one, although it was slow to develop, it is here.

An El Nino he said is expected to bring cooler-than-normal fall season weather.

This has proven true two-thirds of the time.

“We can expect above-normal rainfall, low temperatures for this fall,” said Hillaker. “We question just which month could be wet and if that will cause any issues.”

An expected cool, wet fall could potentially wreak havoc for farmers trying to harvest their crops.

The good news is, Hillaker said, with the crops seeming to be developing on schedule, and the next few weeks showing warmer temperatures, this gives producers a little more leeway because crops are so much further along.

The last time there was an El Nino event; Hillaker said, was approximately five years ago.

That time, October happened to be the month that brought one of the coldest and wettest on record.

“A cooler and wetter side for the harvest season is a best bet with an El Nino, which means it could be a little tougher harvest season than usual,” he said.

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