This past week was the driest week in Iowa since February--allowing the 2007 harvest to hit full speed during this last week of October. Iowa's weekly weather and crop conditions report, released October 29 by Iowa Agricultural Statistics Service, shows 63% of the state's corn has been harvested. That's only 1% behind last year's progress and 5% behind the 5-year average.
For soybeans, the statewide survey shows 88% of the Iowa crop has been harvested as of October 29--about 6% behind last year's harvest at this time and 9% behind the 5-year average.
"The rain finally stopped toward the end of last week and farmers were able to make good progress on both corn and soybeans," observes Harry Hillaker, state climatologist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture in Des Moines. If the weather continues to cooperate, the ground will continue to dry and farmers will continue making up for some lost time.
Grain movement is picking up.
"Some fall tillage has taken place, but many fields are still too wet," he notes. The weekly survey shows topsoil now rates 69% adequate and 30% surplus across the state. Subsoil moisture rates 65% adequate and 33% surplus. Fall fertilizer application has progressed to 15% complete statewide as of October 29.
The weekly survey shows grain movement picked up this past week with 18% heavy movement, 35% moderate, 27% light and 20% no movement. Availability of off-farm grain storage rates 22% short, 75% adequate and 3% surplus. On-farm grain storage availability rates 30% short, 68% adequate and 2% surplus.
Pasture condition rates 7% poor, 27% fair, 48% good and 15% excellent. Use of stubble fields is 54% none, 30% limited, 14% moderate and 2% extensive. Hay and roughage availability rates 13% short, 82% adequate and 5% surplus.
Crops are yielding well in southeast Iowa.
Corn and soybean harvest has progressed faster in southeast Iowa this fall than in other areas of the state. "We didn't have as much rain earlier in the fall here as the rest of Iowa did," says Virgil Schmitt, an Iowa State University Extension field agronomist at Muscatine. "We've made better progress. My guess is today (Oct. 30) soybean harvest is probably 90% to 95% complete here in southeast Iowa and corn harvest is 75% to 80% complete in the counties that I cover."
In general, Schmitt says he's hearing from farmers that bean yields are mainly ranging in the upper 40's and lower 50's this fall. "I've heard of bean yields as low as 29 bushels per acre and as high as 70 bushels per acre," he says. "On corn, 170 bushels per acre to 200 bushels per acre would catch most of the yields."
He adds, "I've heard of yields as low as 130 bushels per acre and some up in the 250 bushel per acre area. There's quite a variance in corn yields in southeast Iowa this year. But I think the 170 to 200 bushel range catches the vast majority of the fields. And the grain is coming out of the field pretty dry this fall too."
Schmitt has seen corn come out of the field commonly at less than 17% moisture this fall, and some less than 15%. Corn is drying down very nicely in the field.
Harvest is moving again in northeast Iowa.
"We fell behind in harvest progress on soybeans this fall in northeast Iowa," says Brian Lang, ISU Extension field agronomist at Decorah. "That was because farmers decided to go ahead and harvest some of their cornfields first that had lodged or down corn in them. They got away from harvesting the beans for awhile. Then we had that wet week in mid-October and the beans fell behind their normal harvesting progress. Now, as of the week of October 29 we're catching up pretty good on soybean harvesting and still keeping pace on corn."
How are yields this fall in northeast Iowa? "Good," says Lang. "Beans are mostly between 50 and 60 bushel per acre, which is better than average. There's a lot of corn in the 180 to 200 bushel per acre range. Of course there are some fields that are averaging higher and some lower than that. But overall, we're on par with last year where we had some record corn yields in northeast Iowa. The prediction was that northeast Iowa would be even higher than last year's record corn yield. I don't know if we are going to reach that this fall. But we are doing very well with corn and bean yields this fall in northeast Iowa."