OTTUMWA — Iowa does not lack for soil moisture this spring, and right now that’s a problem.
The National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) said more than half the state currently has a surplus of topsoil moisture. At least three-quarters of southwest and south central Iowa have surplus moisture, and more than 60 percent of those regions have surplus subsoil moisture.
Conditions are better in southeast Iowa, where a comparatively low topsoil and subsoil surpluses are at 59 percent and 28 percent, respectively.
It’s a sharp difference from recent years. Only one other year since 2015 saw the first week of April without any significant portion of the state being short of topsoil moisture. That was in 2017.
The water is a problem for the state’s agricultural community. Only 2 percent of the state’s oat crop has been planted, the lowest percentage since 2008. And the NASS report said feed lots remain muddy due to rain.
This week won’t help the western parts of Iowa, where flooding is a serious problem. But this week’s major storm will spare Iowa the worst, while swaths of Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota face a late-season blizzard.
Iowa could use a chance to dry out. Wet fields pose a challenge for heavy farm machinery, and officials said continuing wet conditions will delay planting.