Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says the drought conditions are getting worse by the day — but there is still some hope rain yet this week can do some good.
“As you talk to producers you hear a lot of ’em say ‘if we could just get a rain right away my corn’s gonna do pretty well yet,’ but they’ve been saying that for two weeks. It continues to fade a little bit every day,” Northey says.
“Part of this is a story yet to be written. We don’t know how bad that damage is, we don’t know if we’ll get a 3-inch rain by this weekend or whether it’ll be before we get that much.”
There is a chance of thunderstorms and the crop-saving rain in the forecast. “If we could get a rain pretty quick, we have a lot of fields that could do pretty well. I mean we have a lot of 150 bushel fields left in Iowa if we can get a rain right away. If we don’t get a rain in 10 days, we man only have a handful and a lot of those fields may not even make a hundred bushels,” explains Northey.
Corn and soybeans are the “star” crops in the state, but there’s also one million acres of hay. “That’s all going to feed livestock someplace,” Northey says, “cattle primarily someplace, cattle or horses. And that hay ground has just flat out after this last cutting has not regrown, because we need moisture to regrow that. We have a lot of pasture ground in Iowa, and I’ve talked to a lot of producers that have cattle on pasture — whether they’re calves, whether they’re beef cattle on pasture — they’re completely out of feed on that pasture and they are pulling those cattle out of that pasture.”
Those pastures are likely lost as a feed source for the rest of the year. Northey says at this point rain might not even help the brown pastures.
“It’s not quite like a yard where it takes awhile for it to come back, this is even worse because the pasture’s been chewed down and it’s hard for it to come back. So these folks are taking their cattle in and feeding them hay, which they normally wouldn’t do maybe until September.”
He says it’s more expensive to feed the hay and other kinds roughage to keep the cattle going. Northey expects some federal disaster help to come through.
“We’ll see likely the assistance to be able to allow haying and grazing on our CRP land that’s out there,” according to Northey. “That’ll likely start the second of August. And I think the majority of Iowa will be able to see that, I know the eastern two-thirds will be.” Northey runs a grain farm near Spirit Lake.