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Growing season check-in: Soil moistures doing fine, need some warmer weather

The cool temperatures and wind we've had over the past several weeks haven't let spring let up to its typically optimistic connotation. Farmers aren't worried yet.

POLK CITY, Iowa — Wednesday did not exactly live up to an April spring-like day. Temperatures only reached the upper 40s, with off and on showers pretty much all day. 

It did, however, live up to an April showers reputation.

So far this year, farmers have had trouble getting seeds into the ground due to colder April temperatures.

"We're still waiting for it to warm up. Today, our soil temperatures are still around 40. We'd like to have them at 50 degrees and on a warming trend," Polk City farmer Kenny Lund told Local 5.

That's the benchmark. Once soil temperatures reach that 50-degree mark, it can give farmers the green light to get planters out on their land.

By this time last year, Lund already had most of his crop planted. Last March, the air temperature ran five degrees above the average and was a lot drier, which skyrocketed soil temperatures.

"We've got a great window to plant heading into the early part of May. So we're not too concerned right now," Iowa State climatologist Dr. Justin Glisan said.

That quick and dry start to spring last year led drought conditions to worsen quickly heading into the warmer months. The drought peaked in mid-June before easing by October.

Credit: WOI

This year, soil moisture levels are doing better, and with the rest of the rain in the forecast for Friday and Saturday, once warmer temperatures do eventually arrive, it'll be all systems go.

"The 100th percentile of soil moisture would be a soaked sponge, so no capacity for infiltration of more water. Much of the state is at the 30th percentile or below, which is a lot better than last year," Glisan added.

Credit: WOI

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