Due to the continuing federal government shutdown, the USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service, or NASS, has again not completed the weekly crop progress and condition report that is usually released each Monday afternoon during the growing and harvesting season. There was no weekly crop progress report issued last week either. The weekly crop progress report is based on statewide surveys and is compiled by federal employees of USDA/NASS.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey on October 14 issued the following statement on harvest progress in Iowa, based on his observations. He also released the Iowa weekly weather summary prepared by Harry Hillaker, the state climatologist for Iowa. Hillaker is a state employee, working for the Iowa Department of Agriculture. So for the week ending October 13, the weather section of the Iowa Crops & Weather report is available but the results of the survey of crop progress statewide is not available.
Due to federal government shutdown, there is no USDA crop progress report
"Due to the federal government shutdown we do not have a crop progress report again this week, but farmers continue to make significant progress on harvest statewide," says Northey. "The precipitation we have received during the past week has slowed harvesting progress in some areas. Overall, harvest remains behind average and yields are extremely variable," says Northey.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—for week ending October 13, 2013
By Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship
The past reporting week began with light rain falling over much of the state on Sunday (Oct. 6) with daytime highs only near 50 degrees F. Much warmer weather prevailed from Monday (Oct. 7) through Friday (Oct. 11) with highs mostly in the 70s each day with a few locations reaching into the low 80s near the Nebraska border. Dry weather was the rule from Monday through Thursday with scattered showers on Friday and Friday night. Cooler and drier weather returned on Saturday with highs mostly in the 60s.
Temperatures dipped to freezing over approximately half of Iowa on Sunday
Temperatures dipped to freezing or below over about one-half of Iowa on Sunday (Oct. 13) morning. A hard freeze was recorded in some valley bottom locations with a low of 26 degrees reported near Elkader, and 27 degrees near Spencer and Battle Creek. On the other extreme, Sioux City reported a Thursday (Oct. 10) afternoon high of 83 degrees at Sioux City. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged from 1 degree above normal at Burlington to 7 degrees above normal in far northwest Iowa. Rain totals varied from just sprinkles at a few scattered locations such as Grundy Center, Denison and Guttenberg to 0.51 inches at Lamoni and Primghar. The statewide average precipitation was 0.11 inches while normal for the week is 0.59 inches. Soil temperatures as of Sunday (Oct. 13) were averaging from the mid 50s northwest to low 60s southeast.
While federal government is partially shut down, nothing is shutting down on Iowa farms
Nothing was shutting down at Justin Dammann's Page County farm work this past week. Despite the partial federal government shutdown that has put a lock on reports regularly provided by the USDA, Dammann had progress to report. "There's no shutdown here. We can't put harvest on hold," joked Dammann, who was combining soybeans and corn. "Things are still hit or miss regarding yields."~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
Dammann, who had success with early spring planting, says southwest Iowa soybeans took a hit when things went dry in August. "We didn't get any rain that month," he says. "So yields are averaging about 30 bushels an acre. Our corn is doing better than expected, ranging from 150 to 180 bushels per acre. We still have quite a bit of both crops to harvest, so we're hoping to find stronger numbers."
Iowa farmers are harvesting widely variable yields, but some are "better than expected"
Clarke McGrath, ISU field agronomist based in Harlan, says harvest is in high gear in southwest Iowa with farmers concentrating on soybeans. Producers are trying to avoid issues with low-moisture beans prone to shattering like they've experienced before, he says. Last week and this past weekend "farmers were hitting beans hard," says McGrath. He says farmers in the area were hoping for soybean yields in the low to mid-40s in early September. He says many are now finding yields in the 50s, with some fields pushing 60 bushels per acre at about 12% moisture.
"Farmers from Creston to Schleswig are pleasantly surprised; shocked may be a better word," says McGrath. "Good genetics are a big factor. Those areas got a few timely rains and favorable temperatures at the right time."
Looking at Iowa statewide, farmers are harvesting fields with varying yield levels. While some yields are better than expected, other farmers have some yields worse than last year. Terry Basol, ISU Extension agronomist at the Northeast Iowa Research Farm at Nashua, says bean yields are extremely variable, ranging from 35 to 70 bushels per acre. Corn, for the most part, is averaging 180 to 200 bushels per acre. "All in all, most growers are surprised with their yields; a little better than originally thought," he says.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
In Wapello County in southeast Iowa, farmer Pat Swanson reports, "Our soybean yields have been averaging between 42 to 58 bushels per acre, with moisture around 12%," she says. "So far, we have harvested corn planted in May with yields ranging from 150 to 200 bushels per acre, with moisture from 18% to 23%. We expect yields to go down as we get into the later-planted fields."
Impact of continuing shutdown of federal government is being felt by farmers
Chad Hart, ISU Extension grain economist, says a lack of government harvest and production reports hasn't affected commodity markets yet. But that could change when combines are parked for the season. Since the partial shutdown of the government started on October 1, Hart says November soybeans on the Chicago Board of Trade have only fluctuated 25 cents. Recently, November beans have been $12.90 per bushel. "As we move past harvest into winter, that's when we would see the lack of information (especially demand information) have an impact on markets and marketing," Hart adds.
While Iowa Soybean Association president Brian Kemp was pleased with soybean yields that were 5 to 10 bushels better than he expected a month ago, he's not happy about the lack of information available for farmers at one of their busiest times. "It concerns me that farmers and others are relying more on anecdotal or unfamiliar sources for information," says Kemp who farms near Sibley in Iowa's northwest corner.
Grant Kimberley, ISA market development director, echoes Kemp's concern. "We're not receiving the export commitments and reports, which doesn't allow us to track changes (in sales)," says Kimberley. "Theoretically, we aren't seeing the pricing info, either. With the lack of a farm bill and compounded with not having access to the USDA Foreign Ag Service information, U.S. agriculture and organizations such as the U.S. Soybean Export Council can't function as needed. Information is vital in this day and age. The shutdown prevents that access, but the work of farmers, traders, etc. continues."