Thanks to rainfall that brought as much as 2 to 3 inches to some areas of the state during the week ending October 14, Iowa had its wettest week since the third week of May. Statewide average rainfall was 1.65 inches while 0.58 is normal for the week. But despite the rain, Iowa is still extremely short of moisture for the year.
That's the word from state climatologist Harry Hillaker, who describes the situation in the weekly Iowa Crops & Weather report issued October 15. The statewide USDA weekly survey also updates the harvest situation. It shows that 87% of Iowa's 2012 corn crop was harvested by October 14, and 93% of the state's soybeans were harvested. Corn harvest is one month ahead of normal, soybeans three weeks ahead.
Iowa has been in a drought for a more than a year, and it may take longer than that to get out of it, says Hillaker. Recharging the reserve supply of moisture in the subsoil for 2013 crops will take a lot of rainfall to fully catch up. Normal precipitation between now and next spring will not be enough. National Weather Service figures show central Iowa is 8.89 inches short of normal after receiving 22.06 inches so far this year. Northeast Iowa around the Waterloo area is 9.52 inches short of normal precipitation, and the Mason City area has a 14-inch moisture deficit.
In some areas, Iowa farmers picked up much-needed rainfall, but still need more
“A number of farmers in the state received welcome moisture this past weekend, as many are wrapping-up harvest and seeing soils that are very dry and will need significant rainfall to replenish both topsoil and subsoil moisture levels," notes Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. “Now that many farmers have completed harvest, it is important that they wait for soil temperature to be below 50 degrees and falling before doing anhydrous ammonia applications."
The complete weekly report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship site or on USDA's site. A summary of the October 15 report follows here:
CROP REPORT: Most of Iowa's 2012 corn and soybean crop now harvested
Iowa famers took full advantage of dry weather during the first part of the week that ended October 14, advancing the state's 2012 corn and soybean harvest, according to the weekly survey by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The report was released October 15 by the USDA/NASS Iowa field office in Des Moines. A much needed rain moved in Friday evening aiding pastures and settling dust in some areas. Fall tillage continues as harvest is nearly complete. Some farmers are delaying anhydrous applications as they wait for cooler conditions and better soil moisture.
There were 5.9 days suitable for fieldwork statewide during the past week. Topsoil moisture improved to 50% very short, 29% short, 21% adequate and 0% surplus. Subsoil moisture improved slightly and is now rated 70% very short, 25% short, 5% adequate and 0% surplus. Grain movement slowed a bit, with 45% of the state seeing moderate to heavy grain movement from farm to elevator. As the harvest season advances, 98% of Iowa is reporting adequate or surplus off-farm storage capacity and 95% of the state reports adequate or surplus on-farm storage capacity.
Last year at this time, only 40% of Iowa's corn crop had been harvested
As of October 14 the survey shows 87% of the corn crop has been harvested for grain or seed, one month ahead of normal. Last year at this time, only 40% of Iowa's corn crop had been harvested. Also as of October 14, 93% of Iowa's 2012 soybean crop has been harvested, three weeks ahead of normal.
Only 22% of Iowa's pasture and range land is rated in fair or better condition. Pasture and range condition is rated at 50% very poor, 28% poor, 19% fair, 3% good and 0% excellent. Hay supplies are considered short across 41% of Iowa with just over two-fifths of the hay supply considered in good condition. There are reports of calves being weaned and sold earlier this year due to short winter hay supplies.
IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—for week ending October 14, 2012
By Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship
Substantial rain finally arrived over much of Iowa over the weekend of October 13 and 14 with most of the southeast two-thirds of the state receiving over an inch. The rain moved into western Iowa Friday (October 12) evening and exited eastern Iowa Sunday (October 14) afternoon. Unfortunately the northwestern quarter of the state completely missed the weekend rain. Light rain also fell over the northeast two-thirds of Iowa Monday (October 8) night and Tuesday (October 9) with some additionally very light showers over the extreme northeast on Thursday (October 11).
A few areas of the state saw weekly rain totals exceed 3 inches
A few areas saw weekly rain totals exceed 3 inches such as Fairfield (3.98 inches), Red Oak (3.52) and Bloomfield (4.15). The highest total was reported near Waucoma in Fayette County with 4.22 inches. Lester in Lyon County reported only a trace for the week. The statewide average precipitation was 1.65 inches while normal for the week is 0.58 inches of rain. The week ending October 14 was the wettest week in 24 weeks for Iowa (it was the wettest week since early May).
Meanwhile temperatures were below normal from Monday through Friday with readings falling as low as 17 degrees at Sibley on Wednesday (October 10) morning and 19 degrees at Spencer on Friday (October 12) morning. Temperatures were above normal over the weekend with Des Moines the hot spot with a 77 degree high on Saturday (October 13). Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 3.5 degrees below normal. Soil temperatures briefly cooled into the 40s but warmed to the mid-50s north to upper 50s south by Sunday (October 14) and climbed further on October 15 & 16.
In some areas of Iowa the rivers are low enough you can walk across them
“Normal rainfall will not be enough to recharge our state's depleted subsoil moisture supplies by next spring," says Tim Hall, a hydrologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in Des Moines. “We aren't going to make it back to normal in one good rainstorm or one good week of rain. It's going to take a sustained amount of rainfall for a significant period of time to get soil moisture reserves and rivers, lakes and ponds back up to normal. A lot of people have never seen river and creek levels this low in Iowa before. Some streams have dried up entirely in some places in the state, or they have only spots where standing water has pooled and is not flowing."