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Farmers concerned about potential drought as planting season revs up

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 10:31 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A lack of rain in the Midwest this spring and a threat of an expanding drought could mean higher meat prices in grocery stores, according to a local farmer.

“The dirt is just perfect after this weekend’s rain, but it’s not completely saturated,” Jim Greif, a farmer in Linn County, said.

Grief said that a dry spring allowed farmers to get their crops into the ground, but now he and many farmers across the state need it to rain a bit more to get them to grow.

“We had an inch-and-a-half of rain at the perfect time, but we need 6-inches of rain over the next six weeks,” Greif said.

Grief said some farmers were already seeing issues with dry conditions in the north-central and northeastern portions of the state. The Des Moines Water Works posted a warning to its residents to conserve water because the Raccoon River, the city’s primary water source, was lower than normal.

Greif said the threat of a drought and bad weather conditions in Brazil bringing new markets for corn has driven prices of crops higher than he has seen in over a decade. However, that could also bring a spike in meat prices in grocery stores.

“Hogs, cattle, and chicken eat a lot of corn,” Greif said. “That will probably show up first in the stores.”

KCRG-TV9 First Alert Storm Team Meteorologist Corey Thompson said there were some chances of rain later this week, but it was too far out to know how much rain.

“Our short-term outlook does include rain chances in Eastern Iowa,” Thompson said. “It appeared we would most likely see the rain in the south where they already were doing better in terms of drought conditions.”

Thompson said it was too early to sound the alarm just yet, but Greif said these next few months were going to be important for him and many farmers across the state.

“Watch the latter half of July, and if we get shorted, we could be short in the corn crop,” Greif said. “Beans need the rain in August.”

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