While scattered rains last week helped some areas of the state, more moisture is still needed pretty much statewide for consistently good crop yields in 2007. That's the conclusion of the weekly Iowa crops and weather report issued July 23 by Iowa Ag Statistics Service in Des Moines.
The survey by the government agency rates Iowa's 2007 corn crop at 63% good or excellent, the same as a week ago. Soybean conditions are 68% good or excellent statewide as of July 23, a slight improvement from the previous week.
State climatologist Harry Hillaker of the Iowa Department of Agriculture in Des Moines says areas of northeast and southeast Iowa received a couple inches of rain last week and are in good shape for crop yield prospects. But conditions are abnormally dry in northwest, southwest and south central Iowa. Conditions are good in eastern Iowa, and favorably moist to slightly dry in west central, north central and central Iowa.
Western and northwest Iowa are dry
"Driving from Des Moines in central Iowa west to Council Bluffs, and then heading north up to the northwest corner of Iowa on July 22, I saw some cornfields hurting from the dryness along the western edge of Iowa," says Sioux County farmer Bill Keiken. "Corn on the lighter soils that aren't irrigated south of Sioux City is firing. The leaves are turning brown on the lower sections of the cornstalk, as the corn plants are running out of water. Here at Sioux Center, we only had a trace of rain last week."
Roger Elmore, Iowa State University extension agronomist, says there is some talk about cutting some corn for silage in northwest Iowa, rather than harvesting it and selling it for grain. He says there were reports of corn plants blown over by strong winds that hit west central Iowa last week.
The poor root systems from a wet spring and attack by rootworms make corn susceptible to being blown over in strong winds. Thus, some of the corn is "goose necked" which can be hard to harvest.
Shallow root systems plague corn plants
The weekly survey results issued July 23 sum up the current situation in Iowa: "Scattered rain showers fell on parts of Iowa last week, bringing crop damage due to straight line winds. Rainfall amounts ranged from two tenths of an inch to four inches. This rain will need to continue in order for yields to remain consistent. Areas that received rain report large improvements in condition of the crops but still hope to see more moisture."
Topsoil moisture rated 18% very short, 30% short, 49% adequate and 3% surplus across Iowa. Subsoil moisture rates 11% very short, 30% short, 57% adequate and 2% surplus.
Oats turning color are at 98%, 1 percentage point behind last year's 99%, but slightly ahead of the 5-year average. Oats harvested for grain are at 35% complete, behind last year's 42% and 8% behind the 5-year average. Condition of the oat crop improved slightly from last week to zero percent very poor, 5% poor, 33% fair, 53% good and 9% excellent.
Over 90% of Iowa corn crop is tasseled
Corn tasseled, at 90%, is equal to last year and 4 days ahead of the 5-year average of 79%. Corn silked, at 73%, is 2 percentage points behind last year, but 4 days ahead of normal. Corn in milk stage is at 21%, 2 days ahead of last year and 4 days ahead of the 5-year average. Corn condition is 2% very poor, 8% poor, 27% fair, 47% good and 16% excellent.
Soybeans blooming, at 83% of the Iowa crop, are equal to last year and ahead of the 5-year average of 80%. About 42% of soybeans are setting pods, 3 points above last year and 10 percent above the 5-year average. Soybean condition is 1% very poor, 5% poor, 26% fair, 53% good and 15% excellent. Over 75% of the second cutting of alfalfa hay is complete, behind last year's 88% and the 5-year average of 81%. Third cutting of alfalfa is underway. All hay condition is 4% very poor, 20% poor, 36% fair, 34% good and 6% excellent.
Pasture condition rates 6% very poor, 21% poor, 39% fair, 28% good and 6% excellent. The sparse rainfall last week wasn't enough to rejuvenate overgrazed pastures. Some farmers are supplementing dormant pastures by feeding hay.