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Wettest year on record slows farmers

Published: Monday, June 10, 2013 11:33 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, June 10, 2013 11:34 a.m. CDT

Statewide, there was rainfall of 6.06 inches in April — twice the average — and it was Iowa’s wettest May on record.

Crop producers have been mired in mud much of the spring. It ranked as the wettest April among 141 years of records and ninth coolest. While there were some clear days in April, farmers waited for soil temperatures to warm up for ideal planting conditions.

Temperatures continued to run below average in May, while rainfall was 8.84 inches, or 4.28 inches above normal. It was the wettest May on record, and the snowiest with statewide average snowfall of 3.4 inches.

While this area escaped the 13 inches of snow dumped on Osage, south-central Iowa did get measureable snow on the night of May 2 into the morning of May 3.

Finally, a welcome period of warm, dry weather began on May 10 and continued for more than a week.

But, then rain occurred somewhere in the state every day from May 19 through the end of the month. Creston received 1.23 inches of rain on May 27, and more than .30 of an inch on both May 28 and May 30.

The month of June appeared to begin with a reprieve, with only .10 accumulation until Saturday. Now, however, most farmers are delayed again with another .57 of an inch on saturated ground that was experiencing a drought just a few months ago.

Harry Hillaker, state climatologist for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, has numbers that confirm farmers’ frustration with poor conditions for planting and emergence.

Iowa temperatures averaged 43.7 degrees, or 4.6 below normal this spring, while precipitation has totaled 17.66 inches, or 7.44 inches above normal.

“This ranks as the wettest and fifth coolest spring among 141 years of records,” Hillaker said. “The previous wettest spring was 1892, with 15.36 inches, and a cooler spring has not been recorded since 1960.”

This has also been the wettest year to date with 19.93 inches of precipitation through the end of May. The old record was 17.72 inches set the first five months of 1973.

The drought? That almost seems like a distant memory now.

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