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Jasper County suffering moderate drought

(Ty Rushing/Newton Daily News)
Dried grass and cracks in the ground are some of the signs of the ongoing drought that is taking place in Jasper County. The county is currently classified as suffering from a “moderate drought.” Ty Rushing/ Daily News

According to the Drought Impact Reporter, Jasper County is under drought conditions, which have impacted five areas. The largest impact is on the agriculture industry and the county is currently classified as D1, or a moderate drought.

Estimates indicate Jasper County only received one to two inches of rain in July, which was a big change of pace, according to State Climatologist Harry Hilaker.

“The biggest weather story of the month was precipitation, or the lack of it,” Hilaker wrote in his July weather summary report. “Following seven consecutive months of above normal precipitation, July turned very dry.”

The lack of rainfall seemed to cause a mixed reaction from Hilaker.

“Fortunately, subsoil moisture was plentiful statewide prior to the dryness and temperatures in July averaged 7.1 degrees cooler than in 2012, thus placing much less stress upon crops than was seen last year (which was the fourth hottest and fifth driest July of record)” he said.

“While the mild late July temperatures greatly reduced moisture stress, they also slowed crop development,” Hilaker said. “This magnifies already existing concerns regarding the lack of maturity of some crops when the first freeze arrives.”

Hilaker went on to say the conditions of corn and soybean crops in the state have only slightly declined in spite of the dry conditions.

“The percentage of the crop rated in poor or very poor condition is much smaller than at this time last year,” he said.

Iowa State Agronomist Roger Elmore expressed his concern for the state’s corn crops recently.

“The cooler temperatures early and wet soils reduced root growth early on, and that sets us up for more problems,” he said. “What you need in those kinds of environments when you have shallow rooting is a wet year. The drought monitor last week started creeping in, and it’s more pronounced this week. That’s not good news.”

With no rain in the forecast until Thursday and expected high temperatures, there is a chance that this drought could stick around Jasper County for a bit.