We’re more than a month into spring, yet frost, flurries and snowfall are again in the weekend forecast. It’s annoying for many Iowans who want to start enjoying the outdoors but it’s a huge financial threat for many farmers who can’t plant their crops.
Dennis Todey, director of the U.S.D.A.’s Midwest Climate Hub in Ames, says it’ll stay rainy and cold for a while.
“The models are keeping some of the heavier rain further to the south, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, but even if that does happen, we have soils that are still wet and we’re going to have cloudy, cool conditions,” Todey says. “Those are not situations to be able to warm soils up very quickly.”
The weekend forecast calls for up to an inch of snow possible across parts of northern and western Iowa on Sunday into Monday, with rain over the rest of the state. That rain likely won’t let up either.
“There is still the potential for a couple of systems coming through over the next week to ten days which are bringing a lot of moisture with them,” Todey says. “We have to keep an eye on those and see exactly who gets the rainfall out of this and how much.” Todey says it may be the middle of next month before we’ll see much of a change.
“There are hints that maybe toward the second week of May there will be a little bit of a pattern shift away from this,” Todey says, “but that’s going to be late enough to have some people concerned at this point.” Iowa Agriculture Secretary, Bill Northey, says things vary a great deal across the state.
He says some of the areas that have been wet haven’t gotten started at all, while some areas in southeast Iowa and some up near the Minnesota border got started with some planting.
Northey, who farms near Spirit Lake, says farmers are poised to get the planters moving as soon as they get dry weather.
“Folks can cover a lot of ground pretty quickly once it does gets nice. But I know as we get into late April, folks are starting to get anxious to get that corn in the ground,” according to Northey. It looks like the month of April is going to slip away before that dry weather appears, but Northey says there’s still some time before things get too serious.
“Even the first week of May is certainly fine,” Northey says, “once we get past the seventh or tenth of May — then farmers are getting nervous. They’ll still plant corn in many cases rather than switching to beans at that stage. But, starting to really get anxious once we hit the May time period, and especially a week or ten days into May.”
Northey knows what farmers are going through as he says he hasn’t been able to get into the fields and get any of his corn planted yet.
(Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton contributed to this report)