Iowa Corn Planting Off To Slow Start In 2014

Iowa Corn Planting Off To Slow Start In 2014

Storms this past weekend helped improve soil moisture in much of Iowa, but have kept corn planters out of fields.

Last week farmers in Iowa applied dry fertilizer and anhydrous ammonia, installed some drainage tile, constructed terraces, did some tillage. There were scattered reports of some corn planting, mostly in southern Iowa. That's the summary of the weekly Iowa Crop & Weather Report, issued April 14 and based on survey data gathered and complied on April 13 by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

WELCOME RAIN: Activity in this central Iowa field came to a standstill this past weekend. Storms improved soil moisture conditions across much of the state, but kept corn planting from getting underway. Comparatively few acres of corn are planted, mostly in southern Iowa.

"The rains which much of the state saw this past weekend were generally welcomed as it is still early. The northwest corner of Iowa did miss much of the rain and that area remains in need of moisture. If it warms up and fields dry, farmers will be ready to start planting," says Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. "It is great to see cover crops, which were planted on a record number of acres last fall, greening up again this spring."

What do these wet fields mean for corn planting?
"We are still in good shape for time to plant corn. Don't get in a hurry and plant corn on fields that aren't ready," says Mark Johnson, an Iowa State University Extension field agronomist in central Iowa. He says the Ankeny airport received 1.37 inches of rain this past weekend. In addition on Sunday night and into Monday morning April 14, several locations in central Iowa received a rain/snow mix and then a light snow.

"The rain was a nice addition to help alleviate our need for soil moisture, to help start recharging our moisture supply," says Johnson. "And it was nice to get that rain because we still aren't past the optimum corn planting window. Farmers need to be patient and not work the ground when soil at the point of tillage implement depth is still wet. Likewise, you need to not plant when the soil is still wet in the top 4 inches." He cites the following table "Corn Yield Response to Planting Date" which is from ISU's Corn Planting Guide (PM 1885) available at the ISU Extension Online Store.


Corn Yield Response To Planting Date

Date                     Relative yield potential

April 20-May 5                 100%

May 13-19                         99%

May 26-June 1                   90%

June 10-16                         68%

June 24-28                         52%

* This data is an average of three locations (Nashua, Ames, Lewis) based on three years of results.

Iowa subsoil moisture supply still rates 55% short

The complete weekly crop and weather report for Iowa is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship's website or on USDA's site. The report summary follows here:

CROP REPORT: Above average temperatures in Iowa allowed over 20% of the state's expected oat acreage to be planted during the week ending April 13, 2014, according to the weekly survey by the Iowa office of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Precipitation fell towards the end of the week as rain turned to snow overnight Sunday. Statewide there were 3.9 days suitable for fieldwork. Activities for the week included applying fertilizer and anhydrous, tiling, terrace construction and spring tillage.

Recent precipitation helped improve soil moisture levels in a large part of Iowa. As of April 13, Iowa's topsoil moisture as a statewide average rated 6% very short, 25% short, 57% adequate and 12% surplus. Subsoil moisture rated 17% very short, 38% short, 43% adequate and 2% surplus.

Survey shows 29% of Iowa oat acreage is planted
Also as of April 13, the weekly USDA survey shows 29% of oats have been planted in Iowa, 10% ahead of last year but 22% behind average. The east central and south central Iowa crop reporting districts have over 50% of their oat acreage planted. A few farmers reported oats starting to emerge. There were also scattered reports of some corn being planted, mostly in southern Iowa, late last week.


Pasture condition is rated 13% very poor, 26% poor, 43% fair, 18% good and 0% excellent. Most pastures were still slow to emerge, but rains late in the week helped return some green to the area. Calving conditions were reported as good.

IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—for week ending April 13, 2014
By Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship

Mostly dry weather with highly variable temperatures was the rule until Saturday evening April 12 when showers and thunderstorms moved into Iowa. Daytime high temperatures were mostly in the 60s on Sunday (April 6) and Monday (April 7). Highs on Tuesday (April 8) were mostly in the 50s. A freeze occurred over most of northern and eastern Iowa on Wednesday (April 9) with morning lows of 22 degrees reported at Grinnell, Atlantic and Stanley. Strong southerly winds brought a rapid warm up by Wednesday afternoon with highs in the mid-60s northeast to low-80s west with Sioux City reaching 83 degrees. Highs were in the 60s on Thursday (April 10) and in the 70s on Friday (April 11), but in between a freeze was reported over much of the northeast one-half of Iowa on Friday morning with Grinnell dipping to 24 degrees. Windy and warm weather prevailed Saturday (April 12) with highs in the mid-60s northeast to mid-80s southwest. Harlan, Clarinda and Des Moines were the hot spots with 86 degree maximums on Saturday afternoon.

Weekend rain helped improve dry soil conditions a little
A cold front slowly advanced across the state Saturday, April 12 evening through Sunday bringing needed precipitation and much cooler weather to Iowa. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged from 3 degrees above normal at the southeast corner of the state to 9 degrees above normal over the far northwest. The statewide average temperature was 5.8 degrees above normal.


Light rain was scattered over the northern two-thirds of Iowa on Sunday (April 6) but with amounts mostly under one-tenth of an inch. Light rain also was scattered over much of the state on Monday (April 7) but again only a few areas managed a little more than one-tenth of an inch of rain. Tuesday through Friday was dry. Showers and thunderstorms moved across the northern one-third of Iowa early Saturday morning April 12 while thunderstorms were widespread Saturday evening into Sunday morning.

Weekly rain totals for the crop reporting week ending at 7 a.m. on Sunday, April 13 varied from none across portions of far northwest and far southeast Iowa such as Le Mars, Holstein, Fairfield and Burlington to 2.44 inches at the Marshalltown Airport and 2.45 inches at Fayette. The statewide average precipitation for the week ending April 13 was 0.44 inches while normal for the week is 0.76 inches. The Saturday evening storms brought reports of high winds and/or large hail from 32 counties. However, moderate to heavy rain fell across the southeast two-thirds of Iowa after 7 a.m. on Sunday and those amounts will be included in next week's report.

TAGS: Extension
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