Drought and Derecho Impacting Iowa Crops

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AMES, Iowa — The summer of 2020 will go down as the year of the one-two punch against Iowa crops. Earlier in the summer, conditions were really dry in west-central Iowa, which is still the center of a drought in Iowa. The areas of Iowa still under a drought are growing to include most parts of the state.

Then on Aug. 10 the derecho storm rolled through flattening crops from central Iowa into eastern Iowa.

On Friday, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship held an online seminar to discuss what could be expected in the fall harvest in light of the drought and derecho.

“There’s quite a few complications that arise when we have a large grain quality issue,” said Charles Hurburgh of Iowa State University. “This is probably the largest one I’ve seen, the largest area coverage of multiple problems that I’ve seen.”

Farmers were given a number of things to consider as the fall harvest approaches.

“Take an active role in scouting regularly. The situation is changing,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “As you start to make your harvest plan, be talking to your elevator grain handler about what would happen or how would you handle lower quality grain, and be thinking about your propane needs and be planning ahead.”

Hurburgh said that if grain will be harvested to sell, be aware of the type of toxins that may be in the crop due to mold or alfatoxins in drought-stressed corn.

“They may have some concerns or restrictions even on what grain will be taken,” said Hurburgh. “Have those conversations beforehand, rather than when the load is on the scales.”

Hurburgh said the reduced grain harvest will mean less storage is needed. Around 120 million bushels of storage was lost in the storm. Hurburgh said he thinks that would not be a big problem in the fall.

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