Johnson County farmers share crop concerns during dry season

Some crops in Johnson County have not had rain in two week.

Johnson County is in a dry spell, and farmers said they noticed it for a while.

"We've kind of had enough rain to always get by," said farmer Steve Swenka.

Swenka said his farm did not get any rain in two weeks.

"We're kind of running out of that now...when we've needed some rain pretty badly any time here now to kind of save the crop that we have," he said.

Right now, Johnson County is not experiencing drought conditions like other parts of the state, but the crops are still at risk.

Meaghan Anderson, Iowa State Extension Field Agronomist, said "Much of the county is considered below normal for rainfall this year. The longer we go without rainfall, the more the crops need to pull from deep soil moisture in order to provide water and nutrients for that crop."

"What I've seen in my career is more drought and more flooding, not anything in the middle balance anymore," said Scott Koepke, Grow Johnson County Education Director.

Koepke said there are ways for farmers to adapt to mother nature even when facing inconsistent weather.

"You will achieve more balance in weather systems if you go back to a principal of honoring biodiversity," said Koepke.

He means planting a variety of different crops, not just corn and soybeans, which can lead to better moisture and fertilization in the ground.

"it's smart, and it's not easy, but if you slowly try to introduce something to that mix, to break it up and bring more plants, you might attract more beneficial insects," he said.

For crop and pasture farmers like Swenka, they hope for some rain in the forecast.

"There's still time. If we get two inches tonight. I'd say we'd be very well set for a very nice bean crop, so I guess we'll wait and see," he said.

Koepke said diversifying crops on the farm can create financial benefits for farmers by providing more food for exports, and bringing more jobs to Iowa.

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