Eastern Iowa farmers hoping for rain for dry crops - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Eastern Iowa farmers hoping for rain for dry crops

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The end of this ear of corn is stunted due to a lack of moisture The end of this ear of corn is stunted due to a lack of moisture
DUBUQUE COUNTY (KWWL) -

Iowa's secretary of agriculture Bill Northey says eastern Iowa is the driest part of the state right now.

That comes as the rest of Iowa - and the nation, overall - are facing the possibility of a bumper crop of corn and an excellent soybean harvest.

Many farmers in eastern Iowa are hoping for some moisture soon, before Labor Day, just to get an average yield this year.

Craig Recker and his sons farm 1,200 acres of corn in Dubuque County to feed their beef cattle. Recker knows firsthand the impact of this recent dry spell.

"See, you got a pretty nice ear here," Recker said Wednesday on his farm, pulling the husk off an ear of corn and revealing its kernels. "See how the tip's come back on that? If we got moisture, that would've filled the tip right out and blew it right out the end."

The ear of corn in his hand was filled with big, fat kernels except for on the top, where small, stunted kernels never developed. Dry weather and an overall lack of moisture in the soil, he said, is to blame for that, but it's not too late for the existing kernels to take on some more weight - if only the area sees some rain, and soon.

"If we can get a rain here in the next 10 days-- I'd say you kind of need it this week yet probably, because the crops are maturing along pretty fast here," Recker said.

Moisture right now is even more important for soybeans, which need the rain this month to fill their pods. Whereas corn kernels develop in July and then take on extra weight in August, the actual soybeans in the pods grow in August.

Dubuque County farmer Dale Domeyer said continued lack of moisture may lead to soybean pods at the top of the plant dying off.

"So far, overall, they look really well. Biggest thing we worry about now is lack of moisture," Domeyer said.

Picking a small bud off the top of one of his soybean plants, he said, "This is a flower off of a soybean plant that, if there would've been enough moisture, would've made a pod, but as you can see they're now dying. They're no longer going to make it."

He said, ideally, eastern Iowa would get an inch or two of rain per week until Labor Day. After that, he said, dry weather is what farmers need for harvest season.

Both Recker and Domeyer said they don't expect any poor yields this year. The difference in moisture may make the difference between a slightly below-average yield and a slightly above-average yield.

Chad Hart is an associate professor of economics and crop markets specialist with Iowa State University. He said a poor corn and soybean yield in any given year can ultimately impact shoppers at the grocery store, as grain ethanol plants and grain shipping companies pass their losses on to the consumer. On a national average, he said, about 13 to 14 cents out of every dollar a person spends at the grocery store funds agriculture.

With the rest of the state and much of the nation facing a bumper corn crop, Hart said, consumers won't likely see a negative impact at the grocery store this year.

As for rain in eastern Iowa, he said Wednesday over the phone, "Here in Ames we've had rain most of the day and we're trying to send it your way."

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