High Heat And Humidity Are Good For Crops, Bad For Livestock

High Heat And Humidity Are Good For Crops, Bad For Livestock

The higher than normal temperatures and humidity are continuing to encourage crop growth in Iowa, but the uncomfortable conditions for people are stressing livestock—even causing deaths in some instances.

The first week of August 2010 continued this summer's trend of rain, heat and humidity. At least one inch of rain was reported in most areas of Iowa last week; more than eight inches of rain was dumped on central Iowa. The rainfall this past week came after the wettest June on record for the state of Iowa and the fifth wettest July.

This field near Bondurant was the victim of flash flooding that occurred in much of central Iowa Monday and Tuesday. Just over 5 inches of rain fell at Ames and in the Des Moines area overnight and Oskaloosa had over 6 inches.

Along with frequent showers, last week's weather included high temperatures and humidity, which has continued into this week—the second week of August--and has been good for crop development. However, these extreme weather conditions that cause heat advisories have stressed the state's livestock, with reports of heat exhaustion and even some cases of death loss for hogs and feedlot cattle.

Iowa crops remain in mostly good to excellent condition with sufficient rain amounts and high heat indices, according to the weekly crop and weather report issued August 9 by the Iowa office of USDA's National Ag Statistics Service. The weekly survey currently rates the state's corn crop at 70% in good to excellent condition. The Iowa soybean crop is 70% in the good to excellent category.

Despite too much rain, Iowa crops remain mostly "good to excellent"

There are some other areas of the Midwest that have also had unfavorable weather this summer. However, nationally the majority of the corn and soybean crops are, like Iowa's crops, rated in good to excellent condition. The 2010 U.S. corn crop is rated 70% good to excellent, and 66% of the U.S. soybean crop is rated good to excellent.

"Corn and soybean crops across the state of Iowa look extremely good in fields that are well drained and able to absorb the continuous rain," notes Greg Thessen, director of the USDA's NASS office in Des Moines, which compiles the weekly surveys sent in by crop reporters scattered throughout the state. 

The August 9 report notes that some yellow corn plants continue to show up in areas of fields as a result of nitrogen deficiency due to the soggy growing season. Farmers are continuing aerial fungicide spraying of corn. In soybeans, cases of diseases such as sudden death syndrome and white mold and the insect soybean aphid have been reported. Excess rain has taken a toll on the hay crop and the quality of alfalfa being produced. Farmers are finishing harvesting oats. Pastures remain in good condition with productive growth, as rains continue to keep the grassland from going dormant.

August rain following Iowa's wettest June ever and fifth wettest July

The statewide average precipitation was 2.15 inches last week, more than double the weekly normal of 0.96 inches. Weekly rain totals varied from none at Keokuk to 9.30 inches at Maxwell, according to the report. Severe flash flooding was reported over much of central Iowa Monday morning August 9.

"This was the tenth consecutive week of above normal rainfall and eleventh of the past 12 weeks with above normal temperatures," says Harry Hillaker, state climatologist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture in Des Moines. Temperatures for the week ending August 8 as a whole averaged 2.8 degrees above normal. On Tuesday and Sunday of last week, heat indices soared above 100 degrees in some parts of the state. The weekly weather and crop report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture site at www.IowaAgriculture.gov and on USDA's site at www.nass.usda.gov/ia.

Iowa's corn crop now 81% in milk stage and 38% in dough stage

There were 4.3 days suitable for fieldwork during the past week, compared with 4.1 days the previous week. North central and southwest Iowa reported the most days suitable for fieldwork at 4.9 days; central Iowa reported the least number of field days for the second straight week at 3.6 days. Topsoil moisture rates zero percent very short, 2% short, 60% adequate and 38% surplus across the state. Subsoil moisture rates zero percent very short, 1% short, 56% adequate and 43% surplus.

Iowa's statewide corn crop reached nearly 100% silked, 81% has reached the milk stage and 38% has entered the dough stage; all three categories are ahead of the 2009 and the 5-year averages. Corn kernels have started to dent in 4% of the crop, ahead of last year when the crop had not yet entered this stage and the 5-year average of 3%. Corn conditions rate 3% very poor, 8% poor, 19% fair, 45% good and 25% excellent.

Iowa's soybean crop currently rates 48% good and 25% excellent

Nearly all of Iowa's soybean crop has bloomed. The August 9 report indicates 97% of the 2010 acreage has bloomed compared to last year's 94% and the 5-year average of 95%. Pods have been set in 82% of the soybean acres, three days ahead of last year and two days ahead of the 5-year average. Soybean conditions now rate 3% very poor, 6% poor, 18% fair, 48% good and 25% excellent.

Oat harvesting is now at 94% complete and six days ahead of last year's harvest and five days ahead of the 5-year average. Oat conditions rate 2% very poor, 8% poor, 22% fair, 55% good and 13% excellent.

The August 9 report indicates 88% of the second cutting of alfalfa has been harvested, behind last year's 89% and behind the 5-year average of 93%. Third cutting is now 29% complete, ahead of the 2009 and the 5-year averages. Hay conditions rate 5% very poor, 8% poor, 28% fair, 45% good and 14% excellent.

Pasture and range conditions rate 2% very poor, 5% poor, 24% fair, 50% good and 19% excellent. Pastures are in mostly good condition; precipitation has encouraged pasture growth. "High temperatures and humidity have led to stress on livestock, as they struggle to find shade in order to get relief from the heat," the report says.

TAGS: Soybean USDA
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