Grey clouds bring no relief from drought

As a thick layer of grey clouds diminished the hot summer sun Don Swanson, an Iowa Soybean Association member, walked through one of his soybean fields near Ottumwa. The clouds could not be more misleading. It would appear, if you did not know we were facing a record drought, that it could rain at any moment. But like many other days this summer, rain never fell and his soybean and corn fields would not receive the relief they so desperately needed.

Don Swanson peers to the horizon as grey skies fill the area. Drought conditions have taken hold across much of Iowa. 

Don Swanson peers to the horizon as grey skies fill the area. Drought conditions have taken hold across much of Iowa. 

“We got off to a great start this spring,” Swanson said. “We started planting corn in early April, and we got the soybeans in without any problems. At this point, the soybeans are showing good color, but there are a lot of abortion in pods, and I think they’ve gone backwards in height as they’ve tried to conserve all the moisture they can.”

Swanson reached down and pulled one of his soybean plants from the field and instinctively examined it while shaking his head. While looking at the plants health, he voiced his concern that the drought conditions will soon be bringing other problems.

“I’m very nervous about spider mites and aphids coming in,” Swanson said while looking at the leaves of the soybean plant. ”We’re still optimistic and as weather conditions warrant we’ll still fight the bugs.”

But the outlook for rain to come to the rescue is looking as dark like as the skies above. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting the drought to persist or intensify through October, 31.

“There’s nothing in the forecast,” Swanson said about the chance for rain. “The question now will be analyzing our crop insurance guarantees to look at economic thresholds. We’ll have to see if there’s a chance to continue to invest in this crop to provide an economic return above the federal threshold.”

Swanson like many other farmers will continue to watch the situation and work his hardest to grow a successful crop. “Farmers aren’t good at giving up,” Swanson said.

Originally published for the Iowa Soybean Association.