Last year at this time, the grass was growing, weeds were germinating and farmers were working in their fields.
It’s a much different story this year, as temperatures continue to run below normal across most of the Midwest. But Iowa climatologist Harry Hillaker says that is not necessarily a bad thing.
“It’s quite a contrast to what we had going at the same time a year ago, when we had a very, very early start to spring and temperatures already in the 80’s several times by this date—and so this year has been quite a contrast,” says Hillaker.
“But for the most part, given that we’re trying to come out of a drought, it’s much better to be in this cool pattern than what we had last year. The very early start to spring was really quite a negative as far as drought impacts go.”
Iowa has seen an increase in precipitation in recent weeks. Unfortunately, it may not be doing much to recharge depleted soil moisture levels.
“So I guess it’s a good sign that we’re still able to get the precipitation—the bad news being that the ground is still frozen to quite a substantial depth yet and therefore very little of this moisture is going to work its way into the soil,” Hillaker says.
“So it’s not really going to help our soil moisture situation out much at all.”
But on the plus side, Hillaker says, the recent rains and snows have helped fill farm ponds, creeks, streams, and rivers.