Just 15% of Iowa's 2012 corn crop is in good condition. About half (49%) of the crop is in poor to very poor condition. That's according to the latest statewide survey conducted by USDA for the week ending August 5. Results were released August 6 by the Iowa Office of USDA's National Ag Statistics Service in Des Moines.
"A week ago the survey gave the poor to very poor rating to 46% of Iowa's corn," notes Greg Thessen, head of the USDA/NASS office in Iowa. "A year ago despite a heat wave during July, only 7% of Iowa's corn was rated poor to very poor. This year there's been little or no moisture reserve in the subsoil to carry the crop through this extremely dry summer. A year ago more than 90% of Iowa's topsoil and subsoil was rated at least adequate for moisture. This past week 97% of the state's topsoil and 96% of the subsoil was rated short to very short on moisture."
Iowa is the nation's leading corn producing state and is one of the top two leaders in soybean production. The survey as of August 5 shows 37% of Iowa's 2012 soybean crop is in poor to very poor condition, and 39% of the crop is in fair condition.
About half of U.S. corn crop is now rated as "poor to very poor"
The U.S. corn crop is also hurting, although rain in some other states did move the U.S. corn crop rating up slightly this past week. Nationally, 50% of the corn crop is now in poor to very poor condition, up two percentage points from a week ago.
In addition to Iowa's 49% "poor to very poor" rating, other key corn growing states also continue to suffer in what is being called the worst drought since the mid-1950s. Illinois, the second leading corn producing state has 74% of its crop currently rated poor to very poor. That rating applies to 73% of the corn in Indiana; 42% in Ohio; 84% in Missouri; 37% in Nebraska; 16% in Minnesota; 41% in Wisconsin and 69% in Kansas.
Iowa's rating came after weekend rains delivered an inch to an inch and a half on parts of the state. Even so, state climatologist Harry Hillaker of the Iowa Department of Agriculture says "the statewide average precipitation for the week ending August 5, 2012 was 0.62 inches. That is about two-thirds of the weekly normal of 0.96 inches."
Thus, farmers didn't hold out false hope from the weekend rains, which left most of the state with moisture deficits of from 6 to 8 inches for the year.
USDA will issue its updated corn and soybean yield forecasts on August 10
Farmers in southeast Iowa, one of the areas of Iowa hardest hit by this year's drought, expect corn yields to be down significantly from last year. Many of them say they are looking at 120 to 140 bushels per acre as their best corn compared to a normal yield of around 180 bushels. For soybeans, a lot will depend on rain the first half of August. Some beans aren't looking very promising. But farmers say beans planted on good ground might end up yielding better than expected if they get timely rains in August.
Farm Futures magazine released the results of its survey last week. Based on the magazine's poll of more than 1,900 farmers in key corn growing states, it shows this year's U.S. corn yield is likely to average no more than 117 bushels per acre, with national production totaling slightly less than 10 billion bushels. Another survey by the private forecasting firm Informa pegs the U.S. corn harvest at 10.3 billion bushels, down from Informa's July estimate of 12.49 billion bushels. Informa has reduced its yield estimate for the U.S. crop to 121 bushels per acre from its earlier estimate of 142 bushels per acre. FCStone, a commodity trading firm, has predicted U.S. farmers will harvest 11 billion bushels of corn in 2012, with an average yield of 124 bushels an acre.
Doane Agricultural Services said last week its survey of Iowa fields indicates a 117 bushel per acre yield average for the state of Iowa, which would be the lowest for Iowa since the flood year of 1993. USDA will issue its new yield forecasts for corn and soybeans on Friday, August 10, both for the nation and for individual states.
Cooler temperatures and rain brought some relief but crops remain stressed
"The cooler temperatures and rain over the past weekend in Iowa brought some relief but crops remain stressed," observes Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. "Crop conditions continue to worsen and much more precipitation is needed." The weekly USDA Iowa Crops & Weather report is available in its complete form on the Iowa Department of Agriculture website www.IowaAgriculture.gov or on USDA's site www.nass.usda.gov/ia. Following is a summary of the latest weekly report.
CROP REPORT: As of August 5, Iowa farmers welcomed widespread rainfall for the second straight week with the heaviest precipitation in east-central and south-central Iowa. However, both corn and soybean conditions declined slightly for the week ending August 5. The week's activities included chopping droughty corn for silage.
There were 6.4 days suitable for fieldwork statewide during the past week. Topsoil moisture levels improved slightly to 66% very short, 27% short, 7% adequate and 0% surplus. Subsoil moisture for the state is currently rated at 71% very short, 25% short, 4% adequate and 0% surplus.
In Iowa, 85% of the state's 2012 corn crop has reached milk stage, ahead of last year's 58% and the five.-year average of 52%. Over 65% of the state's corn has already reached dough stage, two weeks ahead of normal. And 27% of Iowa corn has reached dent stage, also two weeks ahead of normal. Corn condition is currently 20% very poor, 29% poor, 35% fair, 15% good and 1% excellent.
Iowa soybean crop 13% very poor, 24% poor, 39% fair; only 24% good, 1% excellent
Pods are being set on 77% of the 2012 Iowa soybean crop as of August 5, which is ahead of last year's 64% and the five-year average of 68%. Soybean condition is rated 13% very poor, 24% poor, 39% fair, 23% good and 1% excellent. Harvest of third cutting of alfalfa hay, at 80% complete, is just over a month ahead of normal.
Less than one-fifth of Iowa's pasture is now rated in fair or better condition. Pasture and range condition rates 59% very poor, 27% poor, 12% fair, 2% good and 0% excellent. Stress on livestock was minimal with no issues reported for this past week.
IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—for week ending August 5, 2012
By Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship
Hot weather again prevailed across Iowa until a cold front crossed the state on Saturday (August 4). Daytime high temperatures were mostly in the 90s until the weekend when they dropped to the 70s and 80s. Temperature extremes for the week varied from a Monday (July 30) afternoon high of 102 degrees at Hawarden to a Sunday (August 5) morning low of 49 degrees at Sibley. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 4.2 degrees above normal making this the 13th week of the past 14 to average warmer than normal.
This was the 12th week of the past 13 with less than normal rainfall
There were a few scattered light thunderstorms over the northern one-third of the state Wednesday night August 1. The largest rain event since June 20 brought precipitation to most of Iowa between Friday evening August 3 and Saturday afternoon August 4. There were a few isolated rain amounts of more than 2 inches over eastern Iowa while a small portion of southwest Iowa missed the rain completely. Audubon's streak of 41 consecutive days without measurable rainfall barely came to an end on Saturday with 0.01 inch recorded. However, locations such as Glenwood, Oakland and Underwood recorded only sprinkles.
At Underwood a streak of 38 consecutive days without measurable rain continues. Davenport Airport was the wet spot with 2.45 inches (most of which fell in only one-half hour early Saturday afternoon). The statewide average precipitation for the week ending August 5 was 0.62 inches or about two-thirds of the weekly normal of 0.96 inches. This was the 12th week of the past 13 with less than normal rainfall.