The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

October 23, 2012

Drought continues to impact area

OSKALOOSA — Despite the downpour Monday morning, Mahaska County remains in a drought. The impact on local crops is still being felt, as well.

Bob Wells, whose area of knowledge at the Mahaska County ISU Extension office centers around agriculture economics and farm management, explained.

Wells noted that most farmers in Mahaska County are wrapping up their harvesting efforts. He said dry conditions made for a “rapid” harvest this year.

Despite the ongoing drought, the soybean yields from Mahaska County were “fairly decent,” according to Wells. He added that this year’s soy bean yield is close to the 10-year average.

Corn is a different story.

Wells said corn crops have been “all over the board” and that a lot has depended upon what type of soil individual farmers have and how much rain their land received. He said the corn crop could be 10 to 15 percent below the 10-year average this year at 130 to 135 bushels per acre. However, test weights on corn were “extremely good,” said Wells.

On Monday morning, Mahaska County received roughly three-quarters of an inch of rain. Although this didn’t really impact the current harvest, is always good to get moisture into the ground before the first frost, said Wells.

In order to be in good shape for the spring planting season, Wells said the soil in Mahaska County still needs around 15 or 16 inches of precipitation.

With the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicting another dry winter in Iowa, Wells said there is some concern for what the moisture level will be at in the soil in spring.

It’s not all bad news.

Wells said that, financially speaking, many Mahaska County farmers are in good shape. He said over 90 percent have crop insurance.

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