The warm dry weather has allowed farmers to make good progress harvesting crops this fall. Over 83% of the state's soybeans are now in the bin and 52% of the corn has been harvested. That's according to the latest weekly survey by USDA's National Ag Statistics Service, based on conditions as of October 18.
"Corn harvest is now on pace with the five-year average after previously lagging behind," notes Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. "The dry, windy and warm weather of recent weeks has allowed crops to dry quickly. However, farmers are encouraged to continue to exercise caution in the fields, as conditions exist for fires to start and potentially spread quickly."
Many counties are under a burn ban due to dry, windy weather
A spark from the exhaust of a combine or tractor or truck in a field can easily start a fire with cornstalks and soybean crop residue being so dry. And strong winds can spread the fire quickly.
Many Iowa counties are under a burn ban due to dry, windy weather. Residents in these counties may only conduct controlled burns if they receive a permit from a fire chief. Small recreational camp fires are permitted if conducted in a fireplace constructed by materials like bricks, metal, or screen mesh. Any camp fire not in an outdoor fireplace is prohibited. The State Fire Marshal Division recommends avoiding burning on dry or windy days, placing cigarettes and other burning items in proper receptacles and keeping harvest equipment clean for optimum fire safety.
The complete weekly Iowa Crops & Weather Report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship's website IowaAgriculture.gov or on USDA's site nass.usda.gov/ia. The report summary follows here:
CROP REPORT: Warm, dry, and windy conditions allowed Iowa farmers to harvest nearly one-quarter of the state's corn for grain during the week ending October 18, 2015, according to the USDA's National Ag Statistics Service. Statewide there were 6.9 days suitable for fieldwork, the most days suitable for fieldwork this season. Fieldwork activities for the week included harvesting corn for grain, harvesting soybeans, fall tilling, and spreading manure. Reported concerns for the week included field fires due to the dry, windy conditions, and stalk quality with a few reports of wind damage.
Farmers have harvested 52% of Iowa's 2015 corn crop
Topsoil moisture levels rated 4% very short, 22% short, 70% adequate and 4% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 2% very short, 13% short, 80% adequate and 5% surplus.
Virtually all of the corn crop was mature or beyond as of October 18, one week ahead of last year, and two days ahead of the five-year average. In Iowa, 52% of the corn for grain has been harvested, nearly two weeks ahead of last year, and equal to the average. Moisture content of all corn being harvested was 17%, down 2 percentage points from the previous week. For soybeans, 97% of Iowa soybeans were dropping leaves or beyond, two days behind normal. And 83% of the soybean crop has been harvested, 10 days ahead of last year, and two days ahead of average.
Pasture condition is rated 58% good to excellent. Livestock conditions are described as excellent.
IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—for week ended October 18, 2015
By Harry Hillaker, state climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship
Iowa experienced another very dry week for the seven days ending October 18, with nothing more than sprinkles anywhere in the state over the week. Normal precipitation for the week is 0.56 inches. The reporting week began with unseasonably warm weather with high temperatures reaching 78 degrees at Burlington and Donnellson on Monday (Oct. 12). Temperatures from Tuesday (Oct. 13) through Thursday (Oct. 15) averaged slightly above normal with highs mostly in the low 60s north and east and low 70s west and south.
First killing frost of this fall hits parts of northern Iowa
However, there was a freeze over parts of northeast Iowa on Wednesday (Oct. 14) morning with temperatures down to 30 degrees at Cresco, Decorah, Elkader and Stanley. Much colder air moved through Iowa late Thursday and persisted through Saturday (Oct. 17) night. A freeze was recorded over much of the northwest one-third of the state on Friday morning with a minimum of 27 degrees at Spencer with scattered frost in valley bottom locations elsewhere.
However, the coldest weather of the week arrived on Saturday morning with a hard freeze over most of the northeast one-half of the state. Stanley in Buchanan County recorded the lowest temperature with a 19 degree reading Saturday. Another freeze occurred across the north and east on Sunday (Oct. 18) morning but readings were generally not as cold as the previous night. Much warmer air made a rapid return to western Iowa on Sunday with Logan reaching 73 degrees.
Growing season has now ended in a big section of Iowa
The 2015 growing season has ended now over most of the northeast one-half of Iowa. However, a freeze has yet to occur over much of southwest and south-central Iowa with the exception of some colder valley-bottom locations. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged from a degree or two below normal across the east to 2 to 3 degrees above normal over the far west with a statewide average of 0.3 degrees below normal. Soil temperatures as of Sunday (Oct. 18) were averaging in the upper 40s northeast to the mid-50s southwest. But much warmer weather pushed these soil temperature averages well into the 50s northeast and 60s southwest on Monday.