Regional Update: Looking Ahead to the 2023 Growing Season

March 13, 2023 10:43 AM
Blog Post

As we look ahead and gear up for the upcoming growing season, ISU Extension and Outreach Field Agronomists share a quick update on what conditions look like across the state in their respective regions.

North Central Iowa

Angie Rieck-Hinz (Region 3): “We are still in the throes of winter in NC Iowa, but there is some good news.  Our 4-inch soil temperatures are holding steady at around 33-35 degrees, I have seen many tile lines running suggesting the frost is mostly out and we are infiltrating water into soils to alleviate our drought conditions.  However, as of Thursday March 9, Humboldt and the northwest half of Webster County are still listed as D2 or severe drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.  Unless we see a drastic change in the weather pattern, this spring looks to be a cold, wet start to our growing season.”

The current U.S. Drought Monitor map that was released on March 7, 2023. Source: U.S. Drought Monitor. 

Northeast Iowa

Josh Michel (Region 5): “Four-inch soil temperatures in NE Iowa continue to hover in the low to mid 30’s. With very shallow frost levels in some areas to being non-existent in others, much of the precipitation that we’ve received so far this month has been able to infiltrate into the soil. This is great news as most of NE Iowa is currently not experiencing any drought conditions according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, released on March 9, 2023. Adequate moisture levels throughout the soil profile continue to look good so far as many farmers are beginning to prepare for planting season.”

Four-inch soil temperatures across the state by county for March 12, 2023. Source: ISU Mesonet

Signs of spring with tulips starting to come up are now covered up with snow in Central Iowa. Photo courtesy of Meaghan Anderson. 

Central Iowa

Meaghan Anderson (Region 7): “As I write this, snow has just finished falling in central Iowa, so it seems that winter is still here. The 4-inch soil temperature started rising in late February and has remained somewhat stable in the mid to upper 30s since then. While some ponding still exists in fields, many have disappeared and some tiles have been running, so much of the frost is out by now. Once air temperatures warm, we should see a quick rebound in soil temps! It looks like the climate outlooks have us remaining on the cooler and wetter side of the averages through at least the end of March. While I can’t say much about planting now, we can all make sure our spring equipment is in good working order when the time comes using the spring maintenance roundup written by our ISU Digital Ag Innovation Team.”

Southwest Iowa

Aaron Saeugling (Region 10): “Cool and wet conditions in February have caused mud issues for cattle producers and very little fertilizer and lime activity for this year. Southwest Iowa has had some rain events in February that have helped ease dry soil conditions. Due to early cold temperatures and variable frost depths this winter, some rainfall ran off causing ponds and rivers to rise some. However, the rise in ponds and rivers was short lived. By now most of the frost is gone, so rainfall from this point forward should begin infiltrating the soil profile. I would rate SW Iowa still short of soil moisture.”

East Central Iowa

Rebecca Vittetoe (Region 8): “East-central Iowa caught another little bout of snow this last Thursday and over the weekend with lighter amounts to the south and heavier amounts to the north. In areas with little to no snow cover, you can start to see cover crop fields greening up. Additionally, the frost has come out of the ground in most areas, and you can start to see tile lines running in areas. It’s nice to see the tile lines running, especially considering last fall on November 1, all of EC Iowa was on the U.S. Drought Monitor being classified from abnormally dry to being in a severe drought. There has been minimal field activity this spring with the cooler and wetter conditions, and it looks like with the climate outlooks calling for cooler and wetter conditions through the end of March, we may be off to a slower start with the 2023 growing season.”   

Check out the map below to find your local ISU Extension field agronomist and find their contact information here!


Rebecca Vittetoe Field Agronomist in EC Iowa

Rebecca Vittetoe is an extension field agronomist in east central Iowa. Educational programs are available for farmers, agribusiness, pesticide applicators, and certified crop advisors.

Areas of expertise include agronomy, field crop production and management of corn, soybeans, and...