Despite rains late last week and over the weekend, Iowa's corn planting advanced to 64% complete by May 6, ahead of last year's 52% and the 5-year average of 58%. That's according to the weekly Iowa Crops & Weather report, released May 7. It is based on USDA's weekly statewide survey of 200 crop reporters in Iowa.
Nationally, 71% of the corn crop was planted by the end of this past weekend, well ahead of the 53% past of last year, notes Greg Thessen, director of the Iowa office USDA's National Ag Statistics Service in Des Moines. The rain showers that passed through Iowa repeatedly during the past week have slowed farmers, but corn planting this week continues to advance. With some dry days this week, Iowa farmers look forward to finishing planting corn and will move onto soybeans.
Early planting, good soil moisture may make bumper 2012 corn crop
The rains in recent weeks have improved Iowa's soil moisture profile, which had been much drier than normal going into spring. USDA's weekly survey as of May 6 rates 81% of Iowa as having an adequate or surplus supply of subsoil moisture for 2012. That's the amount of plant-available moisture in the top 5-foot of soil, which can help carry crops through periods of dryness during the summer.
The fast pace for spring planting this year has some analysts predicting improved chances for a bumper crop. Early planting gives corn a better chance to pollinate before the extreme heat of late July and August. Also, an early planted corn crop can mature before possible early frosts hit in September.
Those expectations, plus the fact that farmers nationwide will plant almost 96 million acres this year (a record 14.6 million acres in Iowa), which would be the most acres planted to corn in the U.S. since 1937, has increased speculation that corn prices could slide significantly downward in the second half of this year.
CROP REPORT: The Iowa Crops & Weather Report released May 7 says there were 1.5 days suitable for fieldwork during the week, compared to 4.3 days the previous week. The days suitable for fieldwork ranged from a low of .8 days in South Central and Southeast Iowa to a high of only 2.3 days in Northwest Iowa. Topsoil moisture levels statewide increased to zero percent very short, 3% short, 68% adequate and 29% surplus. Subsoil moisture also increased and is now rated 6% very short, 13% short, 66% adequate and 15% surplus.
Even with limited opportunities, farmers in Iowa managed to advance corn planting 14 percentage points as of May 6. Corn planting now stands at 64% complete, ahead of last year's 52% and the 5-year average of 58%. Northwest Iowa producers lead the way for corn planting with 76% complete. Also as of May 6 in Iowa, 23% percent of the corn crop has emerged, 4 days ahead of normal.
Soybean planting in Iowa is 7% complete as of May 6, equal to last year
Soybean planting is 7% complete as of May 6, equal to last year but behind the 5-year average of 11%. Southeast and Southwest Iowa are the most advanced with 14% of their soybeans planted. Oat planting was nearly complete, and 90% of the expected oat acreage has emerged, ahead of last year's 78% and the 5-year average of 64%. Oats have begun heading in some areas of the state. Oat condition improved to zero percent very poor, 2% poor, 20% fair, 63% good and 15% excellent.
Looking at Iowa's pasture and range land, 73% is now rated good to excellent, a 5 point increase from the previous week. Pasture and range condition rates 1% very poor, 4% poor, 22% fair, 49% good and 24% excellent.
IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—for week ending May 6, 2012
By Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship
The past reporting week began on the cool side with widespread rain on Monday (30th). Much warmer weather prevailed for the rest of the week with frequent thunderstorms. Temperature extremes varied from a Monday (30th) morning low of 35 degrees at Elkader to Saturday (5th) afternoon highs of 93 degrees at Little Sioux and Sioux City. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged from 7 degrees warmer than normal over the far east to 14 degrees above normal in the far west. The statewide average temperature was 10.3 degrees above normal.
Rain fell frequently throughout the week with few locations managing more than two consecutive dry days. Rain totals varied from 0.43 inches at the Dubuque Airport to 5.39 inches at the Washington Airport. The statewide average precipitation was 1.51 inches while normal for the week is 0.98 inches. Severe thunderstorms occurred every day at some location within the state except on Monday. The most widespread severe weather came on Friday afternoon and evening across the northern one-third of the state with numerous reports of large hail, high winds and tornadoes. Finally, soil temperatures as of Sunday (6th) had warmed to the mid to upper 60s statewide.