Iowa Corn, Bean Crops Still Lagging In Maturity

Rains last week reduced moisture shortages in some Iowa areas, but parts of southern Iowa got more than needed.

Heavy rainfall this past week alleviated the dryness for some farmers in certain areas of the state, but parts of southern Iowa got much more rain than needed. Crops all across Iowa remain behind normal in development and they continue to need warm weather to reach maturity before first killing frost hits this fall.

That's the summary of the weekly crop and weather survey, released Sept. 15 by Iowa Ag Statistics Service. "Fortunately, the forecast for this week is calling for warm, dry weather," notes Harry Hillaker, state climatologist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship in Des Moines.

"Iowa's 2008 corn crop is roughly two weeks behind the 5-year average," he adds. "Ideally, we'd like to see above-normal temperatures come right now to help crops mature. The long-range outlook is for temperatures to be close to normal, which is not the best outlook, but at least it's more favorable than last week's below-normal temperatures."

About 11% of Iowa's corn is now mature

The amount of Iowa corn at or beyond the dough stage advanced to 92% as of Sept. 15, two weeks later than last year and two weeks behind the 5-year average. Normally, 99% is at or beyond the dough stage by this date.

The survey shows 71% of the state's corn has reached dent stage. Denting
progress lags more than two weeks behind last year's 95% pace and nearly two weeks behind the 5-year average of 92%. About 11% of the state's corn is now mature, compared with last year's 61% and the 5-year average of 45%.

Corn condition now rates 3% very poor, 9% poor, 25% fair, 48% good and 15%
excellent in Iowa. On average, the first hard frost occurs about September 28 in northwest Iowa, and about October 15 in southeast Iowa. The statewide average for the first hard freeze is around October 6 or 7, says Hillaker.

Beans are a week or more behind in maturity

Of the state's soybean acres, 58% are now turning color, 8 days behind last year's 79% pace and one week behind the 5-year average of 82%. Soybeans dropping leaves have advanced to 16%, compared with 46% last year and 44% normally shedding leaves by this date.

Soybean condition is rated at 3% very poor, 9% poor, 28% fair, 47% good and 13% excellent as of September 15. The third cutting of alfalfa has progressed to 71% complete, 20% behind last year and 23% behind the 5-year average.

All hay condition is rated 4% very poor, 13% poor, 34% fair, 40% good and 9% excellent. Iowa's pasture and range condition is rated 4% very poor, 13% poor, 32% fair, 42% good and 9% excellent.

Hopefully, frost will hold off for awhile

"Farmers are getting ready to head full-speed into harvest and are hoping the frost holds off for awhile yet--until crops get mature," says John Wall, who farms in Johnson County in eastern Iowa. "Hopefully the warm weather we are receiving this week will hold out a little longer."

Iowa crops during the 2008 planting and growing season have had a lot of weather adversity thrown at them. As of September 15, what are the conditions ISU Extension crop specialists are now seeing around the state?

"This past week, unfortunately, some of the people who needed the rain didn't get it and those who didn't need the rain got it," says Mike Owen, Iowa State University Extension weed specialist. He coordinates the weekly phone conference with ISU Extension crop specialists across Iowa.

Beans maturing fast in some fields

Soybeans are coming along in maturity, as most beans in central Iowa are in the R6 to R7 stage of growth as of mid-September, notes Owen. But again, like corn, beans need a little bit more time to help the plants dry down and reach maturity.

"Generally, crop conditions are ok. We could certainly use a little more warm and dry weather to help with drydown and maturity of this year's late-planted corn and soybeans," he says. "But overall, things are looking reasonably well with regard to maturity on the majority of Iowa's acres. The big question is how many wet holes are out there and how many acres are we actually going to harvest."

Currently, most of the corn across the state that was planted as early as it could be planted this season is now in the dent stage, with the milk line in the kernel dropping down a third to a half or all the way. Hopefully, the weather will hold and the corn crop will continue maturing, he adds.

Watch corn for stalk rot developing

"One thing Iowa farmers need to be concerned about with these cool, wet conditions we've been having the past couple weeks is that we may have some stalk rot problems developing," says Owen. "Certainly you need to be on the lookout for that. You should evaluate each field and time your harvesting so you don't experience a lot of lodging or corn falling on the ground this fall."

"Some of the yield estimates we've been hearing are pretty good," says Kyle Jensen, ISU Extension field agronomist in southwest Iowa. He's seen some corn that is going to yield 200 bushels or more per acre. That's in the good area. But in fields where farmers ended up with nitrogen loss--where the corn plants turned yellow earlier than normal late in the growing season—yield prospects aren't as good. In fact, yields in those fields are dropping down pretty dramatically to 100 to 140 bushels per acre, says Jensen.

In much of Iowa, corn yield prospects are all over the board depending on how much flooding and other weather damage occurred, notes Owen.

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