Drought worsens across Minnesota; slowly improving in Iowa

(ABC 6 News) – Drought conditions continue to worsen across Minnesota in particular the southeastern part of the state with extreme drought conditions being reported, while the worst of the drought conditions slowly improves in Iowa.

The recent data is valid from July 11 through 8:00 a.m. July 18 and accounts for any rain that has fallen during that time.

According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, for the second straight week, all of Minnesota is experiencing abnormally dry conditions. Moderate drought conditions are being reported across 70% of the state, up 6% from last week. Also, severe drought conditions are up 7% from last week, plaguing 18% of the state. New in this weeks report, extreme drought conditions are being reported in just under 2% of the state which includes most of Olmsted County and Rochester for the first time since January of 2004. Also, parts of Fillmore, Mower and Dodge counties are experiencing extreme drought.

Credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

Jeff Boyne, Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in La Crosse said, “This drought is impacting row crops (corn and soybean) on sandy soils and those areas which have seen less than 2″ of rain since mid-May.  Corn is tightly curling their leaves during the late morning and afternoon in an effort to preserve moisture. Less surface area exposed means less evapotranspiration. While the new more drought-resistant varieties of corn are staying greener longer, there have been some reports of graying in southwest and central Wisconsin and southeast Minnesota. There have been reports of soybeans flipping their leaves. This means that during the late morning soybeans will flip their leaves and expose the underside of these leaves. This part of the leaf is a lighter green, so the plants do not warm as much. Just another way that a plant tries to preserve water.”

Boyne went on to state, “A hay (primarily alfalfa) farmer near Chatfield told me on Wednesday morning that he typically gets 3-4 bales per acre off his first cutting. He only got 1-2 acre this year. As far as his second cutting, he typically sees 2-3 bales per acre. He said considering the current height, he would be lucky to get 1 bale per acre this year.“

Meanwhile, bouts of rain over the last week have alleviated some of the worst drought conditions across Iowa. Still, all of the state is experience abnormally dry conditions. Moderate drought conditions fell from 87% of the state last week, to 78% this week. Severe drought conditions fell even further from 43% last week to 18% this week, and extreme drought conditions cover 4% of the state, down from 5% a week ago.

U.S. Drought Monitor