Dennis Todey.

Iowa farmers could again be facing costly delays in planting early in 2020 as forecasters warn the chances are rising for another cold, wet spring ahead — and more flooding.

Meteorologist Dennis Todey, director of the U.S.D.A.’s Midwest Climate Hub, based in Ames, says conditions are setting up in a familiar pattern. “There are similarities to where we are right now to last year,” Todey says. “There were some heavier, later season precipitation events that did not quite occur this year, so the risk is heightened.”

Wet soil and flooding forced many Iowa farmers to push back planting this year and the harvest has lasted into December for some growers. Based on the latest data, Todey says farmers could be in for another difficult planting season. “We could get planted in a reasonable situation in springtime, it’s just that risk of delay is there again because we have wet soils going in,” Todey says. “There is a risk of cold and wet extending into the spring planting season.”

Winter arrives on December 21st this year, so we’re a good three months from the start of spring. Radical shifts in weather patterns before then are possible, though unlikely. Todey says the trends into early spring will be the ones to watch.
“If you’re wet already, and wet and cold has a higher likelihood of getting into late winter and early spring, the risk for delays in planting exists again,” Todey says. “Am I calling for a repeat of last year? No, we can’t do that, but the risk is there for delays in planting and flooding again.”

Severe and record flooding hit much of the Northern Plains this year and many of the region’s rivers are still near, at or above flood stage.

(By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)