Mother Nature had a few tricks up her sleeve this past growing season. Farm fields across the state received significant rainfall during the growing phase, and at the beginning of the harvest season. State Climatologist for Iowa talks about how recent precipitation compares to years past. He also shares what to expect moving forward.
AUDIO: Justin Glisan, State Climatologist for Iowa
Iowa farmers eagerly waited to enter fields this harvest season, as rain delays kept them on the sidelines. Justin Glisan, State Climatologist for Iowa, says Iowa was “locked in a persistent weather circulation.” He adds the pattern brought periods of rain to the state for “days on end,” which is not typical.
“We equate the water year (October through September) with building up water for the growing season. If we look at the precipitation accumulation in Iowa, during the water year, we’ve been the sixth wettest on record. If we go back to April and take all the precipitation that’s built up through now, we’re the fifth wettest on record. In terms of recent months, September through October has been the wettest on record,” Glisan said.
The constant rainfall caused fields to flood, delaying all harvest progress. Glisan talks about the challenges farmers faced, and currently face, as a result.
“When you have wet fields, you can’t get combines out in the fields. Combines out in the fields can lead to compaction of the soil, which will impact future growing seasons. We also see, with increased precipitation, mold and ear rot,” Glisan said. “The amount of precipitation also impacts the moisture content of corn and beans, and this impacts the ability to store grain for an extended period of time.”
Glisan recognizes conditions have become cool and dry within recent days. He says the extended outlook remains the same.
“Probability wise, it looks like the weather outlook was frontloaded. Now we’re in what looks to be an extended period of dryness. Cooler than average temperatures, but drier conditions look to be the dominant feature going towards the end of the month,” Glisan said.
The long-term forecast shows a chance for an El Nino to develop. Glisan says historically, an El Nino over Iowa leads to warmer than normal temperatures and various precipitation patterns statewide.