drought

Eric Durban/Harvest Public Media file photo

The High Plains Aquifer lost enough water over a recent two-year period to cover the entire state of Iowa in a foot of water.

Jimmy Emerson / jimmywayne / Flickr

Host Ben Kieffer gets the latest on news from around Iowa.  MidAmerican Energy gives an update on the power outage which left almost 40,000 Des Moines-area residents in the dark. IPR's Joyce Russell discusses changes to the problematic Toledo Juvenile Home.  The DNR has a new report which looks at drought conditions in Iowa.  Also, Dubuque native Brooks Wheelan joins the cast of "Saturday Night Live."

Dean Borg

The U.S. Drought Monitor’s weekly update shows drought worsening and spreading across  the state. The monitor’s report includes Iowa in a Midwest section badly needing rain.  

Iowa State University Climatologist Elwynn Taylor says this week’s report is listing more of Iowa in a severe drought category.

“And it includes now almost all of the southern part of Iowa, and almost all of the central,” he says.

It's been hot and dry in Iowa for weeks, and our landscapes are starting to show signs of stress.  On Horticulture Day, Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe discusses the difficulties of maintaining our lawns and gardens through the heat.  Extension Horticulturist Richard Jauron and ISU Associate Professor of Horticulture Cyndi Haynes offer their expertise and advice.

Mississippi River Levels Rise Slowly

Mar 15, 2013
Clay Masters, Iowa Public Radio.

It got pretty shaky there for a bit, as river levels fell dangerously low, slowing down barge traffic essential to exporting Iowa’s grain crops. Mike Peterson with the Army Corps of Engineers in St. Louis says they were able to keep boats moving until mother nature stepped in to make the Mississippi navigable again. 

"I think it’s a source of relief for a lot of folks in the Corps, the Coast Guard and the river industry." 

CR Artist / flickr

Even though Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow, don’t bet old man winter is done with us just yet. Today on River to River, we talk about the winter storms we’ve had this year… and if there’s been progress towards drought recovery. Also, journalist Callie Crossley joins our conversation to talk about race relations in the U.S. and where there’s room for improvement.

Stefan Ray / flickr

Water, it’s there when you turn on the faucet, or the sprinkler, it’s in the plastic bottles at the convenience store and washes away down the storm sewers when it rains.  On today's Talk of Iowa, we give this life giving substance some of the thought it deserves with Charles Fishman, best-selling author of “The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water."

Also, UI assistant professor and researcher, Craig Just, joins us to talk about an effort to monitor river runoff by attaching sensors to river mussels.

Sarah McCammon / IPR

Over the past several months, we’ve been reporting on lots of problems caused by a lack of rain. And for good reason – the historic drought plaguing Iowa and much of the nation has dried up crops, destroyed landscaping, and killed off fish.

But like with most things, there can be a silver lining.

John Larson makes wine at Snus Hill Winery in Madrid, Iowa. This time of year, he’s not growing grapes – but he is mixing wine in giant, silver tanks.

Tom Woodward / Flickr

     

Like many Midwestern states, Iowa is closing the 2012 calendar year with soil moisture deficits after this summer's drought. But with the new crop year at least four months away, Iowa State University Climatologist Elwynn Taylor is seeing some spotty

Taylor credits abundant fall rains with helping mitigate the drought, at least for now.

Jacob McCleland

Southbound barges on the Mississippi River carry grain destined for world markets. Those barges regularly pass northbound tows with thousands of tons of fertilizer heading to Midwestern ports and, later, to farmers’ fields.

But this year’s drought is adding an element of uncertainty to those shipping patterns, as Mississippi River levels reach record lows. Water levels have fertilizer shippers scrambling to get their product to market before low water dries up their most important shipping route.

Stephen Cummings / Flickr

2012 was another big year for news in Iowa.  The headlines ranged from pink slime and spaceships, to the presidential election and financial scandal.  Ben Kieffer counts down the top 10 news stories of the past year, plus some honorable mentions.

Dust Bowl memories offer present warning

Nov 15, 2012
courtesy kansasmemory.org Kansas Historical Society

The Dust Bowl of the 1930s is the subject of a new documentary from Ken Burns airing this month on PBS television stations. The man-made disaster left an indelible mark on the Midwest and on history — and, as Harvest Public Media’s Grant Gerlock reports, today’s extensive corn production could make the region vulnerable once again.

Clay Masters / IPR

The attention often centers on agriculture when a drought hits. But new Iowa Department of Natural Resources numbers show the state’s stream flows are well below normal and groundwater levels are reaching historic lows. There's a ripple effect in how the drought will affect the state’s fish.

Amy Mayer/Iowa Public Radio

After the dry summer, this harvest offers a good look at what drought resistant corn can do. In conjunction with Harvest Public Media, Iowa Public Radio’s Amy Mayer reports the big companies may soon be touting their results, but farmers may not rush to plant drought resistant seed next year. 

Dean Borg / Iowa Public Radio

With Halloween approaching, attention is turning to pumpkins. But not all pumpkin fields are filled with orange.

Drought And The Economy

Sep 14, 2012
Theresa Wysocki / Flickr

What is the economic impact of this year’s drought? When it comes to food prices, agricultural experts and analysts say it means a spike due to soaring corn prices, but consumers may not see higher prices in the grocery store until 2013. Then we look at other economic factors in the Midwest, including how the 2012 Presidential Election could affect crude oil prices.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

One of Iowa’s largest agribusiness companies has a huge investment riding on this year’s prolonged drought. A new hybrid seed corn developed by DuPont Pioneer is being touted for its ability to improve yields under the driest conditions.

In May of 2008, an EF5 tornado hit Parkersburg and New Hartford in Northeast Iowa. Two weeks later. the entire town of New Hartford was evacuated because of flooding. In both cases, property owned by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley and his family was spared. This summer’s natural disaster however is different.  Although the Grassleys' farmland in Butler County will still produce a crop, the yields are greatly reduced. Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank walked with Senator Grassley through his corn and soybean fields on Wednesday afternoon.

Community Environmental Center / Flickr

The heat has placed a lot of stress on gardens and other vegetation, but what about your home? Host Charity Nebbe talks with home improvement expert, Bill McAnally, about problems that can arise with your roof, deck, foundation, or other areas because of the dry weather and how to fix them.

This summer it’s not really a question of making sure that the plants in your landscape thrive, it’s a question of making sure that they survive. Host Charity Nebbe talks with Iowa State University's  Extension Entomologist, Donald Lewis, and the Head of the Horticulture Department, Jeff Iles, about ways to reduce the stress on your plants right now and how to design a landscape that demands less water for the future

Clint Alley / flickr

Farmers growing crops have insurance to ward off the financial failure of their season during this terrible drought. But there’s no safety net like that in place for livestock producers. They are being turned away from government offices when they ask for help. What’s the holdup? Harvest Public Media’s Peggy Lowe reports that aid for livestock producers is tied up in Washington politics. 

Stop by most any unirrigated farm across the lower Midwest and you'll see crops in distress. Midwestern corn and soybean farmers are taking a beating during the recent drought, but it's not likely to drive many out of business.

Most of those farmers carry terrific insurance, and the worse the drought becomes, the more individual farmers will be paid for their lost crops. The federal government picks up most of the cost of the crop insurance program, and this year that bill is going to be a whopper.

Summer Drought

Jul 19, 2012
Clint Alley / flickr

Most of Iowa is now experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions… along with more than half the country.  On today's "River to River' we hear from farmers, business owners and cities about how they’re being affected.  We talk with Elwynn Taylor about the prospects for turning the dry weather around.  And Harry Hillaker tells us how this drought compares with others in the state’s history. 

Clay Masters / IPR

With drought conditions now gripping more than half the country, many farmers in Iowa are waiting to see if they’ll even have much of a crop to harvest. While farm country feels the brunt of the drought, those in the city are also being hit. Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports.

Tom Woodward / Flickr

It’s official: Iowa is deep in the throes of a drought. State climatologist Harry Hillaker is calling it the worst drought since 1988. Yesterday Hillaker joined Governor Branstad at a town hall in Mount Pleasant. Farmers from across the state came to share concerns—but the most worried? It wasn’t those with thirsty grain crops;  it was livestock farmers.