Drought Continues To Punish Iowa Crops

Drought Continues To Punish Iowa Crops

Only 23% of Iowa's corn crop is rated good or better as drought continues to fry the nation's midsection.

For the first time this summer, the condition of Iowa's corn and soybean crops are rated lower than the national averages—as the drought of 2012 tightens its grip on the nation's midsection.

In its weekly crop conditions report released July 23, USDA says 31% of the U.S. corn crop is rated good to excellent. Just 23% of Iowa's corn is good to excellent. For soybeans, USDA says 31% of the national crop is good to excellent. In Iowa it's 28%.

As of July 22, 40% of Iowa's 2012 corn crop is rated poor or very poor, and only 23% good to excellent. A year ago it was 80% good to excellent.

A year ago at this time, 80% of Iowa's corn crop was good to excellent and 80% of Iowa's soybean crop was good to excellent. Nationally a year ago, 66% of the corn was rated good to excellent. Three-fourths of the nation's corn crop is now in fair to poor condition, according to the weekly survey. The National Weather Service is describing this year's drought as the worst since 1956, as continued hot, dry weather this summer has blasted the Corn Belt from Nebraska to Ohio.

Three-fourths of the nation's corn crop is now in "fair to poor" condition

"Crop conditions continue to deteriorate as the hot, dry weather persists—both nationally and in Iowa. Now 40% of the Iowa corn crop is in poor or very poor condition and only 23% is in good to excellent condition. For soybeans it is 30% poor or very poor and only 28% good to excellent," notes Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. "The weather is also a real challenge for livestock producers as pastures are drying up and producers work around the clock to keep their animals cool."

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"This now has been the hottest start for July and the summer season since 1936," says Harry Hillaker, state climatologist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture.

The weekly Crops & Weather bulletin is released each Monday by the Iowa Field Office of USDA's National Ag Statistics Service in Des Moines. The report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship's website www.IowaAgriculture.gov and on USDA's site at www.nass.usda.gov/ia. Here's a summary of the report:

As hot, dry conditions persist, some farmers are starting to chop corn

CROP REPORT: Another hot, dry week without significant precipitation in most areas of the state caused Iowa crop conditions to decline. With deteriorating crop conditions, there have been reports of some farmers starting to chop corn. Applying fungicide was the most common field activity during the week ending July 22.

There were 6.8 days suitable for fieldwork statewide during the past week. Topsoil moisture levels declined to 74% very short, 23% short, 3% adequate, and zero percent surplus. At least 95% of the topsoil moisture is rated short to very short in all of Iowa's districts. Subsoil moisture dropped to 64% very short, 32% short, 4% adequate, and zero percent surplus.

About 36% of Iowa's 2012 corn crop has already reached milk stage

As of July 22, the survey shows 96% Iowa's corn crop is at or beyond the tasseling stage, ahead of last year's 80% and the 5-year average of 72%. Eighty-nine percent of Iowa's corn crop is silking, ahead of last year's 63% and the 5-year average of 55%.

Thirty-six percent of the corn crop has reached the milk stage. Twelve percent of the corn crop has reached dough stage, almost two weeks ahead of normal. Reports show corn has reached the dent stage in all districts except Northwest and Northeast Iowa.

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Corn condition for the state is reported at 14% very poor, 26% poor, 37% fair, 21% good, and 2% excellent. Eighty-five percent of the soybean crop is at or beyond blooming stage, ahead of last year's 74% and the 5-year average of 72%. Pods are being set on 36% of the soybean crop, ahead of last year's 19% and the 5-year average of 26%. Soybean condition is rated 10% very poor, 20% poor, 42% fair, 25% good, and 3% excellent. Ninety-one percent of the oat crop has been harvested, almost three weeks ahead of normal.

Condition of Iowa's hay crop is rated 27% very poor, 29% poor and 31% fair

Harvest of third cutting of alfalfa hay, at 51% complete, is a month ahead of normal. Hay condition is rated 27% very poor, 29% poor, 31% fair, 12% good and 1% excellent.

Over three quarters of Iowa's pasture and range land is rated in poor to very poor condition. Pasture and range condition is 46% very poor, 33% poor, 17% fair, 4% good, and zero percent excellent. Excessive heat continues to cause livestock losses.

Iowa is now experiencing the hottest start for July and summer since 1936

IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—for week ending July 22, 2012

By Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship

Iowa endured yet another week of unusually hot and dry weather. For the 7 days ending through July 22, temperatures averaged 5 to 6 degrees above normal over the east and 8 to 10 degrees above normal over western Iowa with a statewide average of 7.3 degrees above normal. This now has been the hottest start for July and the summer season since 1936.

This past week the hottest weather prevailed on Wednesday (July 18) and Sunday (July 22). Temperatures peaked at 105 degrees at Iowa City and Keosauqua on Wednesday and 104 degrees at Des Moines, Little Sioux, Osceola and Sioux City on Sunday. There was a slight cool down on Friday and Saturday with Elkader recording a Friday morning low of 55 degrees. However, locations such as Des Moines, Osceola and Shenandoah have recorded 11 consecutive days with high temperatures of 90 degrees or higher through Sunday.

Rainfall was below normal over all but a few tiny areas across northern Iowa with Cresco being the wet spot with 2.83 inches of rain. Most of the week's rains came with scattered thunderstorms across about the northeast one-half of Iowa on Wednesday. There were also some isolated thunderstorms over the northern one-third of the state on Saturday and Sunday. Most of southwest and central Iowa recorded no rain for the week. Some areas, such as Glenwood, Shenandoah, Clarinda and Bedford, have recorded 28 consecutive days with less than 0.01 inch of rain through Sunday.

The statewide average precipitation was 0.10 inches for the week ending July 22, while normal for the week is 1.00 inches. Iowa has now recorded below normal rainfall for 10 of the past 11 weeks and above normal temperatures for 11 of the past 12 weeks.

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