Iowa farmers are nursing their crops through the most prolonged drought in more than two decades, relying on just-in-time rains and unseasonably cool temperatures that prevailed across the state until the arrival of last week’s sweltering heat.

At least a portion of Iowa has been categorized in some stage of drought for 160 consecutive weeks, setting a new record for the longest duration of drought since the U.S. Drought Monitor began 23 years ago, according to Justin Glisan, the Iowa state climatologist. 

The three-plus years of drought conditions surpass the 2011-12 drought that lasted 151 weeks. The last time the state was entirely drought-free was on June 30, 2020. 

Currently, 100% of Iowa is classified between abnormally dry to extreme drought. The scarcity of consistent rainfall has sapped soil moisture reserves and resulted in impacts on both...