Dry conditions run deep in northwest Iowa

An Extension crop specialist in northwest Iowa says his area is going to need at least 14 inches of water by next June to get back to what he calls “field capacity” on soil moisture.

Joel DeJong explains that, when they dug root pits in a field near Sioux Center, Iowa this past summer, he found roots going as deep as 8½ feet.

“A foot of soil holds about two inches of water.  I think in this part of the world, we utilized a lot of whatever our rooting depth was—and right now that zone is pretty dry,” says DeJong.

“So to really catch up, to get us at what we call field capacity—which is where we like to be by the middle of June when we really starting using water—it’s going to take 14-16 inches of water to really get that recharge.”

DeJong says the window of opportunity to start recharging soil moisture levels before next spring is closing. 

He says if we get rain or snow before the ground freezes, then soils will benefit—but once the ground freezes, that moisture will just run off. 

Dennis Morrice, KLEM Radio, LeMars, Iowa contributed to this report.

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