Above average rainfall in Iowa limited fieldwork yet again during the week ending July 6, 2014. Statewide there were just 2.6 days suitable for fieldwork, the third week in a row with less than 3 days farmers could get into fields. Many farmers report yellowing of corn and some stress on beans due to excessive rain, according to the weekly survey conducted by the Iowa office of USDA's National Ag Statistics Service.
Strong storms and wet fields continue to stress some crops and create challenges for farmers needing to make hay, spray weeds or side-dress fertilizer, says Greg Thessen, who directs the survey. Fortunately, much of Iowa's 2014 crop remains in pretty good condition, but needs some warm and dry weather to help dry fields. Iowa corn is rated 76% good to excellent, soybeans are 73%. Nationally, the U.S. corn crop is 75% good to excellent and soybeans are 72% good to excellent.
Big picture still looks good, but there are some bad spots
"We are having some major flooding here in eastern Iowa along the Cedar River, Iowa River and Wapsipinicon River," says Virgil Schmitt, Iowa State University Extension field agronomist. "A lot of the low-lying areas close to rivers are going to be a total loss. We had significant wind and hail and a couple tornadoes touched down in areas. We didn't have much if any greensnap in the cornfields that were hit, but those winds did lay the corn fairly flat in some fields. It's now pretty well straightened back up and those fields look fairly good from the road. But if you walk out into them they are rather tangled and will stay that way until harvest. If you have such fields you need to be thinking about your corn head on the combine and what changes you may need to make."
What about nitrogen loss? With nitrogen stress from wet soils and excessive rain there will be some yield loss, says Schmitt. "We've have some areas in fields and some areas in the state that have real challenges this year. At the same time we have a number of farmers saying their crops really look good—except in this area or that area—so we've kind of got the good, the bad and the ugly this year in Iowa."
The complete weekly crop conditions survey report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship's site or USDA's site. The report summary follows here:
Iowa corn rates 76% good to excellent, soybeans are 73%
CROP REPORT: Above average precipitation in Iowa limited fieldwork yet again during the week ending July 6, 2014, according to USDA's National Ag Statistics Service. Statewide there were just 2.6 days suitable for fieldwork, the third week in a row with less than 3.0 days suitable for fieldwork. Weed control and nitrogen side-dressing were behind due to wet conditions and the inability to get equipment through fields. Many farmers report yellowing corn and stress on soybeans due to excessive moisture.
Rain raised soil moisture levels marginally this week. Topsoil moisture levels rated zero percent very short, 2% short, 61% adequate and 37% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 1% very short, 7% short, 67% adequate and 25% surplus. Over one-quarter of Iowa's topsoil remained in surplus condition, with the exception of southeast Iowa.
Scattered reports of corn silking across Iowa
There were scattered reports of corn silking across Iowa. Seventy-six percent of the corn crop was reported in good to excellent condition, a decrease of 3 percentage points. And 21% of the soybean acreage was blooming, 11 days ahead of the previous year but 2 days behind normal. A few farmers reported soybeans setting pods.
Decreasing 2 percentage points from the previous week, 73% of the soybean crop was rated in good to excellent condition. And 95% of the oat crop has headed, 2 percentage points above last year but equal to the 5-year average. Thirty-one percent of the oat acreage has turned color, 10 percentage points ahead of the previous year but 15 points behind average. Seventy-three percent of Iowa's oat acreage was reported in good to excellent condition, dropping 1 percentage point from last week.
Hay cutting is behind normal due to wet weather
Farmers struggled to get their first cutting of alfalfa hay baled, advancing only five percentage points from last week. First cutting of alfalfa hay was 95% complete as of July 6, falling slightly behind both last year and average.
The second cutting of alfalfa was 12% complete, two days ahead of last year but almost two weeks behind normal. Sixty-seven percent of all hay was rated in good to excellent condition. Pasture condition rated 74% good to excellent. Stress on livestock increased toward the week's end with the high humidity and heat.
Heavy rains fell across Iowa for third straight week
IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—for week ending July 6, 2014
By Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship
Heavy rains fell across Iowa for the third consecutive week, this time focused on the central one-third of the state and particularly across east central sections of Iowa. Most of the rain fell in two periods with the larger event coming from Sunday (June 29) morning into Monday (June 30) evening.
The second event began over northwest Iowa late on Friday (July 4) and continued into Saturday (July 5) afternoon over the southeast. High winds and/or large hail were reported from 24 counties on June 29 and from 41 counties on June 30 with every county between Interstate 80 and U.S Highway 20 reporting severe weather on one or both of these dates.
Weekly rain total reached 7.72 inches at Center Junction
The first event brought very heavy rain to east central Iowa with 7.63 inches falling near Center Junction in Jones County. The heaviest rain from the second event fell across west central and southwest Iowa with Red Oak reporting the most rain with 3.90 inches while extreme northeast Iowa missed this storm system. Weekly rain totals varied from 0.15 inches at Estherville and 0.16 inches at Rock Rapids to 7.72 inches near Center Junction and 6.96 inches at Muscatine. Statewide average rainfall was 2.49 inches, or more than double the weekly normal of 1.09 inches.
Meanwhile, temperatures were slightly above normal to start the reporting week on Sunday (June 29) and slightly below normal on Monday (June 30). The remainder of the week was unseasonably cool with daytime highs only in the 60s in some areas on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. At Lake Rathbun the Wednesday afternoon high of 62 degrees tied for lowest July daytime high since records began at that location in 1970. Temperature extremes varied from afternoon highs of 89 degrees at Bloomfield and Keokuk on Monday (June 30) and also at Sibley on Saturday (June 5) while Battle Creek (Ida Co.) and Stanley (Buchanan Co.) reported lows of 45 degrees on Thursday morning. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 5.8 degrees below normal.