What started as an unseasonably warm and dry June has progressed through to July.
Iowa Department of Natural Resources reports a statewide average precipitation of 3.39 inches, 0.78 inches below normal. This consistent dryness, especially in northwest and southern Iowa has resulted in further expansion of drought conditions across the state.
The driest conditions were found across southern Iowa, with some locations four inches short of rainfall during July. This lack of rain resulted in an expansion of drought conditions into all or parts of 24 counties across the southern part of the state. This lack of rain was accompanied by temperatures that were slightly above normal for the month. Streamflow in western Iowa is dropping, and concern for shallow groundwater availability is increasing in some areas.
The latest drought monitor reports show parts of northwest Iowa in extreme or severe drought. As of Thursday, Union County has been placed in the moderate drought category along with Adair, Madison, Clarke and Adams counties.
Moderate drought levels result in soybeans aborting pods, corn test weights struggling, brown grass, pond levels declining, more grass fires and burn bans issued.
In a proclamation issued by State Fire Marshal Dan Wood, open burning in Adair County has been banned effective Aug. 3.
June started with more than 70% of Iowa free of dryness or drought. By the start of July, almost 50% of Iowa was designated as abnormally dry or in a drought. The latest reports show that number has jumped to 60%.
Iowa DNR reports slightly above-normal monthly temperatures observed across Iowa’s reporting stations in July with positive departures of up to a degree over much of the state. The statewide average temperature was 74.3 degrees, 0.9 degree warmer than normal. Several stations reported the month’s high temperature of 100 degrees on the 5th and 23rd - on average 15 degrees above normal.
The August U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) report indicates topsoil and subsoil moisture levels have declined in the state over the last month. In early July, only about one-third of topsoil and subsoil was rated as short or very short of moisture. By the end of July, these ratings had risen to over 45%. Across western and southern Iowa 65 to 70% of subsoil and topsoil is now rated as short to very short of moisture.