Drought conditions continue across Iowa, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s, as little precipitation fell in January.
As the month came to a close, topsoil moisture levels rated 46 percent very short, 44 percent short, 10 percent adequate, and no surplus. The driest area of Iowa was the southwest corner with 58 percent very short.
Over half of the land is reported to be very short of moisture in four of the nine districts in the state. Northwest, north central, west central and southwest Iowa all reported 52 percent or more of the land is very short of moisture.
Availability of hay and forage supplies fell to 47 percent short, 52 percent adequate and 1 percent surplus with 33 percent of the remaining supply in good condition.
Large square bales of hay sold for $221.50 per ton and large round bales sold for $200 to $240 per ton on Jan. 30 at the Dyersville Sales hay auction. Large square bales of third crop hay sold for $190 to $320 per ton at the Fort Atkinson Hay Auction the same day.
Home heating requirements, as estimated by heating degree-day totals, averaged 11 percent greater than last January but 6 percent less than normal. Degree-day totals so far this heating season (since July 1, 2012) are running 8 percent higher than a year ago, but 6 percent less than normal.
State Climatologist Harry Hillaker noted that temperatures fluctuated widely in January, with temperatures dipping below zero as well as rising to near 60 degrees in some areas of the state. The coldest weather came on Jan. 1, 21 and 31.
Elkader reported the lowest official temperature of the month with a reading of minus 15 degrees on New Year’s morning.
On the other extreme, there were a few daily record high temperatures set or tied over portions of southern and Eastern Iowa on Jan. 11, 19, 28 and 29. Creston and Mount Ayr recorded the month’s highest temperatures with a reading of 64 degrees in the pre-dawn hours of Jan. 29.