Area residents spent four waterlogged days trying to revamp activity and harvest schedules to contend with more than 5 inches of rain.

People in some parts of Jackson and Clinton counties measured 4 to 5 inches of rain in their rain gauges the last few days. The land was already soggy from a week or more of solid rain in mid-September, according to Virgil Schmitt, agronomist with Iowa State University Extension.

Area residents received flash flood warnings in the early morning hours Saturday, as rain continued to pour from the sky, further filling already-swollen area rivers.

The Maquoketa River at Maquoketa measured 22.13 feet Monday afternoon; that’s about 2 feet under the 24-foot flood stage, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The river level increased by almost 2.5 inches from Sunday to Monday. 

The Mississippi River at Bellevue measured at 13.21, well below the 17-foot flood stage.

Near DeWitt, the Wapsipinicon River reached 13.6 feet Monday afternoon. That’s 2.6 feet above flood stage.

In the fields

Weather conditions have been less than ideal for Jackson County farmer Isaac Sutton. 

“The rain accumlation we’ve had in the past couple of weeks really put a halt to harvest,” he said. “We were able to pick corn a couple days last week, but it was not ideal conditions.”

Soggy field conditions can be detrimental to the crops and the farmers, according Schmitt.

“The longer the crop stays in the field, the more vulnerable it is to loss,” he said. That loss can be due to weather or vermin.

The recent rainfall can destroy soybean crops, Schmitt said. He explained that mature, dry soybeans can get “rewetted” with all the precipitation. If that happens and the seeds inside take on moisture, they can swell up and pop open, causing beans to scatter onto the ground and become irretrievable by combines.

“Farmers need to be watching the soybeans. If they’re starting to open up but they’re not down to the 13 percent dryness that farmers like, you may be better off to harvest them wetter,” Schmitt said.

Wet corn also can lead to problems, he said. More ears drop to the ground, stalks start falling over, the stalk quality “obliterates more rapidly,” and ear molds can develop.

Schmitt advised farmers to watch out for mycotoxins, which are a result of ear molds. Mycotoxins can have negative health affects on livestock that ingest large quantities of it. If farmers find ear mold on their corn, they should take it to their veterinarian to be tested for mycotoxins, Schmitt said.

Another 1.5 inches to 2 inches of rain were expected to fall in Eastern Iowa by Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. Thursday through end of the week appeared partly sunny, with a 50 percent chance of rain expected Friday through Sunday.

Sutton said slogging through the mud also has made daily chores with cattle an obstacle, and “the cooler temperatures will not help us get into the field any time sooner.” 

The Suttons have kept busy maintaining equipment so they are ready to get back in the fields.

“All we can do now is hope for some warmer weather with sun so we can safely finish up harvest,” Sutton said.

Schmitt advised farmers not to “dilly-dally,” and get out in the fields to harvest as soon as they safely can. But he also advised them not to be in a hurry to harvest the entire crop at once.

“This year’s harvest may be frustrating and slow, and farmers might not want to take a break,” he said. “That’s the time you really need to take a break. No crop is worth getting injured over.”

City, roads, special events

Maquoketa Public Works crews had to pump water last Thursday as the swollen Maquoketa River at Manchester flowed to Maquoketa. 

They started pumping water again Monday night, according to director Frank Ellenz. He said the Maquoketa River was about 1 foot below flood stage Monday morning.

“It’s a moving target,” Ellenz said of water levels. “The most rain was to the west and north of us, and that’s bad. If all the water fell directly on us, it would flow south, and that’s good.”

Some Maquoketa streets underwent minor flooding because the catch basins underneath are not designed to handle the recent excessive rainfall, Ellenz added.

Rural Jackson County roads also fell victim to some minor damages.

County Engineer Clark Schloz said some rutting has occurred on gravel roads, especially on hills, due to excessive rainfall.

“It’s a pain,” he said Monday morning. “The rain is hard on gravel roads. It’s acting more like spring than fall outside.”

Maquoketa High School tried to play its homecoming football game Friday night. The district moved the junior varsity game to Monday and upped the varsity game to 5:30 p.m. Friday.

Maquoketa and Center Point-Urbana played about four minutes until officials called a rain delay. They then completed the first quarter, then lightning struck. The football game eventually was postponed to Saturday at noon. There were fewer fans in the stands, and the Cardinals lost 21-6.

The water deterred area youth from learning about archery, canoeing, and other outdoor skills Saturday. Jackson County Conservation hosts its annual Youth Outdoor Skills Day at Hurstville Pond every October. The event typically draws between 35 and 50 youths. But Saturday, less than 20 showed up. Organizers had to cancel the canoeing lesson because of the cool water temperatures.