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Not as Dry

Agriculturally rich Iowa is among the states that showed significant improvement after nearly four years of drought. May’s rain total was among the tenth most in recorded history for the state, but it didn’t bring major flooding. That demonstrated how dry conditions had been. In fact, the drought for the state was the longest in nearly 60 years.

The additional rain has delayed planting, especially compared to last year. The Iowa Crop Progress and Condition Report stated:

Severe weather including heavy rains, tornadoes, and derecho conditions limited Iowa farmers to 2.3 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending May 26, 2024, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Planting corn and soybeans, and cutting hay was limited.”

The slowdown in the soybean crop planting demonstrates what extra precipitation has done so far this year.

2024 soybean planting in Iowa by the numbers, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture:

  • 73% of expected crop has been planted

  • 10 days behind 2023

  • 3 days behind normal

Severe weather hampered development. State Climatologist Justin Glisan summed up May’s weather challenges:

“Iowans experienced one of the most active reporting periods in recent memory with nearly 30 tornadoes, a late week derecho and anomalously wet conditions; many northeastern stations reported at least 350% of normal rainfall.”

Outside Iowa’s borders, drought conditions persisted in all of Washington and New Mexico, plus western Texas, most of Arizona, northwest Idaho, much of Kansas, southern Colorado, northern Wyoming, and western Oklahoma.

But the U.S. Drought Monitor shows continued gains in reducing drought in the continental United States.

Percentage of continental United States in drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor:

  • February 27, 2024: 21.59%

  • March 26, 2024: 18.09%

  • April 30, 2024: 16.96%

  • May 28, 2024: 12.55%

RELATED: Look at the maps that detail each state’s drought level in these reports from the U.S. Drought Monitor. 



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