Good Weather Lets Fieldwork Begin In Iowa For 2010 Crop

While a few farmers have already started planting corn, others are still harvesting what's left of 2009 crop.

Last week on April 1 you could have written a headline "Iowa Corn Harvest Is Wrapping Up." And it would not have been an April Fools joke. The weather was finally nice enough to allow farmers to get in the fields this spring to finish up the harvesting they couldn't get done last fall due to wet fields.

"Looking back over the rough winter
Iowa had, who would have guessed the corn would have stood as well as it did and dried down in the field as much as it did, and not lose much quality," notes Kevin Ross, a farmer from Minden in southwest Iowa. Today's advanced genetics and biotech corn hybrids share a lot of the credit for the improved standability and drydown characteristics, he says.

First weekly weather & crop bulletin for 2010 issued April 5

The first weekly weather and crop report for Iowa for the 2010 cropping season was released by the Iowa office of USDA's National Ag Statistics Service on Monday April 5. The report is released weekly from April through October. This week's report is based on information from crop reporters located in various areas of the state, and is based on conditions as of April 4, 2010.

The report noted that warm, dry weather last week was very welcome as it allowed drying to take place and fieldwork to start. However, more good weather is needed as soils remain very cool and damp following the long, wet winter.

 Sun and wind promoted drying last week across Iowa

Dry weather last week allowed water levels to subside in rivers and the warm, windy conditions helped the ground firm up, though it remains wet in areas.

Primary activities included finishing 2009 corn harvest and preparing for the upcoming planting season. With nice spring weather, farmers have also been able to apply fertilizer, disk corn stalks, and level fields that were chisel plowed last fall. Even with last week's warmer than average temperatures, the soil in some areas still needs more dry days before wide-spread planting can begin.

There were 3.9 days suitable for fieldwork during the week. Topsoil moisture was rated 1% very short, 4% short, 75% adequate and 20% surplus across the state as of Sunday April 4. Subsoil moisture rated zero percent very short, 2% short, 72% adequate, and 26% surplus. Overall, soil moisture conditions are currently rated mostly adequate across

Warmer weather allows pastures to green up, oats seeded

A few farmers in Iowa have begun planting some corn while others are still trying to complete harvest of their 2009 corn crop. As of April 4, oat acreage planted was 28% complete, well ahead of last year's 7% and the 5-year average of 13%.

Pasture and range condition rated 2% very poor, 11% poor, 34% fair, 46% good, and 7% excellent. The warmer weather and wind have allowed pastures to dry out and green up. Farmers have also taken advantage of the warm spring weather to repair fences damaged by the snow and wind of the past winter. Calving is well underway.

The Iowa Crop & Weather report is also available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship's site each week. 

USDA says
Iowa farmers expect to plant less corn in 2010

Last week's 2010 Prospective Plantings survey results were released by USDA on March 31. They indicate that Iowa may be one of the few states where farmers might cut back on corn acreage this year. Nationally, corn acres are expected to increase 3%. Soybean acres in the U.S. are projected to be up 1% from 2009. In Iowa in 2010, corn acres are expected to decrease 1% and soybean acres are expected to increase 3% from last year.

Doug Holiday, an
Adair County farmer, is cutting back on corn planting by about 300 acres this year and is instead planting more soybeans on his ground in southwest Iowa. He was harvesting corn fields this past week that didn't get harvested on his father's farm last fall. Holiday is a little hesitant to plant more corn this spring, he says, given the delayed harvest last fall and the high extra drying costs he incurred because of the moisture in the grain.

Iowa corn acreage may slip this year, other states are up

"The ground conditions are still wet and we need a lot of wind to get us dried out in this part of the state this spring," says
Holiday. Iowa is one of the few states where farmers may cut back on corn acres this year. Iowa's corn acreage for 2010 is projected at 13.5 million acres, down 200,000 from last year, according to USDA. Farmers in Iowa are expected to plant 9.9 million acres of soybeans in 2010, which is 300,000 more than in 2009.

USDA estimated in last week's planting intentions report that
U.S. farmers would plant 88.8 million acres of corn nationwide this year, with the biggest increases expected in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Ohio.

The report also illustrated how corn and soybeans continue to spread in popularity because of varieties that have made them easier to grow in areas that used to produce lower-revenue crops such as wheat. For example,
Kansas are projected to grow more corn and soybeans this year (8.8 million acres in total for the two crops) than wheat (8.6 million acres).

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