Iowa Corn Planting Lags Behind Average

Iowa Corn Planting Lags Behind Average

Weekly USDA survey shows 9% of Iowa's corn acreage planted as of April 22, trailing the 5-year average of 16%; rain kept farmers out of fields last week.

USDA's weekly survey for the week ending April 22, 2012 shows Iowa corn planting is 9% complete, trailing the 5-year average of 16% for that date. Cool, wet weather hampered farmers in much of the state last week—the second full week of planting.

"The cool wet weather that covered much of the state last week slowed planting progress and as a result only 9% of the corn crop has been planted, which is actually slightly behind the 5-year average," notes Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.  "It is still very early and with dry weather forecast for much of this week I expect a lot of progress to be made and farmers to get their corn planted in a timely manner."

Iowa Corn Planting Lags Behind Average

While the wet weather hampered planting, it improved the state's soil moisture situation, says Greg Thessen, director of the Iowa office of USDA's National Ag Statistics Service. The Des Moines office of NASS gathers the data from volunteer enumerators statewide and compiles it and releases the Iowa Crops & Weather report each Monday.

Iowa subsoil moisture situation improved with rain this past week

The report released April 23, based on conditions as of April 22, shows topsoil moisture as an average for the state has improved to 2% very short, 10% short, 72% adequate and 16% surplus. Subsoil moisture has also improved and is now rated 10% very short, 24% short, 59% adequate and 7% surplus.

North central and northwest Iowa, where soil moisture had been rated as much as 80% inadequate (short to very short supplies) earlier this year, following a very dry fall in 2011, are now rated 43% and 32% adequate for subsoil moisture. Subsoil moisture is still 67% short to very short in northwest Iowa and 56% short to very short in north central Iowa—the two driest areas of the state.

Subsoil moisture reserves—the amount of plant available moisture in the top 5 ft. of soil--are important to help carry crops through the upcoming summer.

Normal rainfall this past week, just shy of an inch, was exceeded in northern half of Iowa, while the southern half of the state came up short of normal

Nationwide the corn planting situation was reversed from Iowa's this past week, as 28% of the U.S. corn crop is now planted compared to a 5-year average of 15% by this date.

The complete weekly Iowa Crops & Weather report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship website at or on USDA's site at  A summary of the report follows here:

Crop Report: Weather conditions were unfavorable for most of the State this week as Iowa experienced several cool, rainy days. Many farmers are anxious for fields to dry out enough so fieldwork and planting activities can resume.

There were 1.8 days suitable for fieldwork during the week, compared to 4.5 days the previous week. The days suitable for fieldwork ranged from a low of 1.1 days in North Central and Central Iowa to a high of 3.4 days in South East Iowa. Topsoil moisture levels improved to 2% very short, 10% short, 72% adequate and 16% surplus. Subsoil moisture also improved and is now rated 10% very short, 24% short, 59% adequate, and 7% surplus.

Despite the rainy weather, corn planting advanced 4 percentage points and now stands at 9% complete, compared with 3% at this time last year and the 5-year average of 16%. One percent of Iowa's 2012 corn crop has emerged, 13 days ahead of normal.

Some farmers were seen planting soybean fields but progress was less than 1% statewide as of April 22. Oat planting is 94% complete, ahead of last year's 70% and the 5-year average of 63%. And 57% of the expected oat acreage has emerged, well ahead of last year's 20% and the 5-year average of 18%. Oat condition is now rated 1% very poor, 2% poor, 32% fair, 54% good and 11% excellent.

As of April 22, 69% of Iowa's pasture and range land is rated good to excellent, a 6 percentage point decrease from the previous week. Pasture and range condition now rates 1% very poor, 4% poor, 26% fair, 46% good and 23% excellent.

IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—for week ending April 22, 2012

By Michael Timlin, regional climatologist, Midwestern Regional Climate Center

The past week reported statewide temperatures that averaged nearly 2.5 degrees below normal. Temperatures ranged from about 4 degrees below normal in the north central part of the state to near normal in the southwest. Daily temperature extremes ranged from 78 degrees in Clinton on Monday (April 16) and Keosauqua on Thursday (April 19) to 28 degrees at several stations in north central Iowa on Tuesday (April 17).

Freezing temperatures were common in the northern third of the state on Tuesday (April 17) and Friday (April 20) with scattered freezing temperatures noted across the state on the last three days of the week (April 20 to 22). The below normal temperatures for the week were largely due to cool maximum temperatures with minimum temperatures closer to normal across the state.

Normal rainfall during the week, just shy of an inch, was exceeded in the northern half of Iowa while the southern half of the state came up short of normal. Rainfall totals in the southwest were about a quarter inch and totals ramped up to around 2 inches in the northeast with a couple locations topping 3 inches (Charles City, 3.03 inches and Cresco, 3.37 inches). Monday (April 16), Friday (April 20), and Sunday (April 22) were mostly dry across the state while the heaviest precipitation fell on Thursday (April 19) at most locations with lighter amounts on the remaining days of the week. Precipitation totals for Thursday were 1 to 2.50 inches for most locations in north central and northeast Iowa. The only reports of severe weather during the week were tornado reports in Clay County on Saturday afternoon (April 21). Both reports were of weak, short-lived tornadoes with no significant damage.
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