Dennis Todey

Forecasters say drought conditions that spread across much of Iowa earlier this year will likely linger well into winter.

Meteorologist Dennis Todey, director of the USDA’s Midwest Climate Hub — based in Ames, says it doesn’t appear there will be many chances to replenish moisture levels in the soil before things begin to freeze up.

“We had a very dry end of summer and end to fall,” Todey says. “It’s been great for harvest but not good for soil moisture recharge. By this point, it’s very unlikely we’ll get the soil moisture recharged to where we want it to be.”

Despite a warming trend in Iowa this week, Todey says winter will be here in a little over a month.

“Our soils are going to go in pretty dry and when the cold does come, we will freeze up and we’re not going to have much chance to recharge soil moisture at that rate,” he says.

The drier conditions typically mean a quicker start to the planting season in the new year.

“When spring comes around and we do thaw and we want to get to ag activity, there’s a better chance of being able to get moving earlier,” Todey says. “Downside is that we’ve got some fairly dry soils that we’re going to need to put some moisture in. That’s my bigger concern with this whole situation, these dry soils that we have going on into winter and into the early spring.”

Todey says another danger with dry soils is that frost can get much deeper and cause damage to pipes and plants.

(By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)