Iowa farmers face planting season with drought uncertainty - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa farmers face planting season with drought uncertainty

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DUBUQUE COUNTY (KWWL) -

Throughout rural eastern Iowa, farmers are hoping for the winds of change when it comes to dry weather.

A 2013 crop market outlook new this month from Iowa State University associate professor and grain market expert Chad Hart shows Iowa's corn production last year was down an estimated average 35 bushels per acre. Also according to his report, the nation exported just 900 million bushels of corn in 2012, compared to exports of no less than 1.5 billion bushels in the four years prior.

At Innovative Ag Services in Farley, agronomy sales specialist Nick Hansel, who is also a farmer, said producers shouldn't take any extreme drought-protecting measures.

"Well, you still have to go into it as a normal year," Hansel said. "You got to think, you know, 'We're going to have a good year' to start, because we still are needing rain - timely rains - so, in that case, yes, we are behind the gun right now, but we can easily make that up."

He said the planting season ahead in April is not doomed by drought - yet.

"I wouldn't get excited right now," Hansel said. "I mean, we still have a lot of time before spring starts."

The drought outlook this year, new this month from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows some improving conditions in most of Iowa, with persistence in the southwest. It's hopeful news, at least, as farmers look for more moisture down the road.

According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, mandatory water cutbacks may be used this summer in some parts of Iowa if there's no relief from the dry conditions. It says the worst ongoing drought conditions right now are in the northwest portion of the state.

The National Drought Mitigation Center says nearly a quarter of Iowa remains in severe or extreme drought.

For an Iowa State University Extension Office list of frequently asked questions about drought and the answers, click HERE.

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