As harvest approaches, southern Iowa farmers are being forced to reckon with drought conditions, which in many cases are severe.

Data provided by the U.S. Drought Monitor lists levels of drought conditions in seven categories: none, abnormally dry, moderate drought, severe drought, extreme drought, exceptional drought and no data.

Statistics for southern Iowa during the week of Aug. 30 show that both Mahaska and Marion counties are classified under the severe drought category. The USDM says impacts of severe drought include dryland corn producing extremely low yields, notable commodity shortages and livestock stress. Severe drought areas also have increased fire risk and less mosquitos. Surface water levels are typically low, algae blooms increase and voluntary water conservation is requested.

Monroe, Wapello and Jefferson counties are also classified under severe drought.

Van Buren County’s north-central portion is classified as severe drought, while the south and southwest portions are classified as moderate drought. Moderate drought conditions include soybeans aborting their pods and struggling corn test weights. Grasses are typically brown and burn bans are often issued to prevent grass fires, which are more likely. In addition, pond water levels decline.

Davis County data shows the northern edge of the county is suffering from severe drought, while the southern and central portions of the county are classified in the moderate drought category.

Appanoose County data shows the majority of the county is under a moderate drought, with the exception of a small section in the northeast corner of the county.

Overall, severe drought across the state has increased by more than three percentage points while moderate drought has increased by just over one.

Channing Rucks can be reached at

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