LAKE MACBRIDE— The question at the farm today was “will it rain?” We hope so. This spring was the wettest on record, and gardeners are harvesting an abundant crop. The crops in the farm fields also look good. As someone posted on Facebook, “walk out to the garden with a shaker of salt and no fear. Ahhhhh Iowa summer.” But we have been in a dry spell since the season turned. The fear is last year’s record drought is part of a pattern that repeats this year.
Another drought would be disastrous for farmers that depend upon keeping customers happy with vegetables that are the opposite of fungible commodities. Crop insurance might pay the expenses, but customers who can buy fresh vegetables trucked in from Florida, California, Mexico, Texas, and as far away as China might get discouraged. They are all-in with the farmer to share in the risk of the season. In a consumer society that means they could find other sources of vegetables next season if things turn out badly.
The ten day forecast shows a 60 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms tonight and tomorrow. After that, the chances diminish to 10 or 20 percent. The prospect for rain is not good.
At my meeting in the county seat tonight the same question was asked. Will it rain? No one was optimistic.
I shared my garden’s abundance at the meeting, taking zucchini, yellow squash, kale, basil, flat leaf parsley and kohlrabi in a cooler. The basil and parsley were popular, with everyone taking some. Everything else, except one kohlrabi found a home. The fragrance of basil filled the room while we met— it was intoxicating.
My sense is we are in for another drought. It already feels that way, despite tonight’s forecast. I hope I’m wrong. We can irrigate if we have to. When the county studied the Silurian aquifer, there was plenty of water. But more is at stake than a single crop, or a couple of bad seasons in a row. The extreme variation in weather is concerning and is consistent with what scientists are saying about the effects of global warming. Let’s hope our questions will be answered, “yes, it rained.”