Another week without rain means much of the Upper Midwest continues its dry spell. In the Quad Cities, it's been more than a month since we've seen a quarter inch of rainfall. While Autumn tends to be the driest season in our part of the world, what's happened late this Summer does not set the optimum stage for what's next.
Areas in Southeastern Iowa are in the most severe level of drought. From Henry County, westward, the drought is now classified as "severe." Around Ottumwa, the drought has gone into the "extreme" category. The change from last week to this week is the addition of almost all of Northern Illinois and Eastern Iowa into "abnormally dry" conditions. Areas west of Cedar Rapids, Iowa are now in "moderate."
The intense drought conditions are really focused on Southern Iowa. Decent amounts of rain back in late July and early August have kept much of western Missouri, Minnesota, and Wisconsin out of the drought. However, 91% of Illinois now included.
Implications: Farmers need this late-Summer rainfall to finish off the soybean growing season. Corn has already formed its kernels and is in a drying stage. In a recent talk with farmers in Jo Daviess County, I learned more about the need for good soil moisture in the Fall. By the time the ground is locked-up with frost, it's imperative the soil contains enough moisture to supply early growth next Spring.
Last night, in a special presentation to the Rock Island County Farm Bureau, I was able to put together a video about the long-range forecast into the Fall and Winter seasons.
We have also been watching area gardens. News 8's plant and garden expert Craig Hignight says that gardens need about an inch of rain/water each week. With only a quarter of an inch in the past month, it's time to water. Best times? In the morning.
-Meteorologist Eric Sorensen