"The warm and windy weather helped the 2015 crop continue to mature and widespread harvest will likely start in the next week or two," notes Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. "We are in the midst of National Farm Safety and Health week, which runs from September 20 to 26, and this is a great reminder to everyone working on the farm or traveling through rural areas to be careful and stay alert during the harvest season."
In most of Iowa, corn and soybean fields that were planted early are either ready for harvest of very nearly there, according to Iowa State University Extension field agronomists. The later planted fields are not quite there, but will probably be ready ahead of when they were last year.
Check corn for stalk strength, plan your harvest schedule
"If you haven't done so yet, now is a good time to be checking your cornfields for stalk rot," says Mark Johnson, ISU field agronomist in central Iowa. "Check at least 100 plants per field, by checking 20 plants in five locations in the field. Use the 'push test' or the 'pinch test' to determine standability. If 10% to 15% of plants lodge or are rotted, you need to schedule an early harvest."
Here are two rules of thumb to keep in mind, says Johnson, when checking behind the combine: 4 soybeans per square foot equals 1 bushel per acre loss. Soybean loss also occurs from uncut stubble. Also, note that 2 corn kernels per square foot equal a 1 bushel per acre loss.
Some bean fields may not be ready until killing frost hits
"Some later-planted beans in central Iowa may not be ready until a killing frost of 28 degrees or lower for several hours," says Johnson. While Iowa's statewide corn and bean harvest is just beginning with a few fields harvested in the state, nationally the Sept. 20 USDA weekly survey shows soybean harvest in the U.S. at 7% and corn harvest 10% complete.
The complete weekly Iowa Crops & Weather report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship's site at www.IowaAgriculture.gov or on USDA's site at www.nass.usda.gov/ia. The report summary follows here:
Iowa 2015 corn and bean harvest begins in some areas
CROP REPORT: A windy, warm, and mostly dry week aided crop maturity for the week ending September 20, 2015 for Iowa, according to USDA's National Ag Statistics Service. Statewide there were 4.8 days suitable for fieldwork. Fieldwork for the week included harvesting seed corn, chopping silage, cutting hay and reports of scattered corn for grain and soybean harvest. Farmers were also preparing farm equipment for the upcoming harvest. Reports indicated seed corn harvest was wrapping up, and corn harvested for grain has had widely varying moisture content.
Topsoil moisture levels rated zero percent very short, 3% short, 86% adequate and 11% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated zero percent very short, 6% short, 82% adequate and 12% surplus.
About half of Iowa's corn crop has now reached maturity
As of Sep. 20, the survey showed 95% of the Iowa corn crop was in the dent stage or beyond, with 49% of the crop now mature, 5 days ahead of last year, but 5 days behind the 5-year average. Corn condition rated 79% good to excellent. Also, 83% of the soybeans were starting to turn color or beyond, while 48% of soybeans were dropping leaves, 5 days ahead of 2014, and 2 days ahead of normal. Soybean condition for Iowa rated 76% good to excellent.
The third cutting of alfalfa hay was 89% complete, 1 week ahead of last year, but a week behind the average. Pasture condition rated 67% good to excellent. Livestock conditions were reported as good.
IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—for week ending September 20, 2015
By Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship
The past reporting week began with dry and unseasonably warm and windy weather. Daytime high temperatures ere mostly in the eighties through Thursday (Sept. 17). There were a few scattered very light rain showers on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday but no accumulations of consequence. Rain was widespread on Thursday and Friday with rain totals of two inches or more common from southwest into east central Iowa. Dry weather returned for the weekend.
Statewide average rainfall was once again above normal last week
Daytime highs cooled to the low sixties northwest to the mid-seventies southeast on Friday, were near 70 on Saturday and mostly mid-seventies on Sunday (Sept. 20). Temperature extremes varied from afternoon highs of 92 degrees at Burlington and Donnellson on Thursday to morning lows of 39 degrees at Sibley on Saturday (Sept. 19) and 38 degrees at Elkader on Sunday (Sept. 20). Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 4.7 degrees above normal.
Rain totals varied from only 0.03 inches at Little Sioux to 4.22 inches at North English and 4.10 inches at Lost Nation. The statewide average precipitation was 1.18 inches while normal for the week is 0.77 inches. Finally, there were also several reports of hail Thursday evening across southeast Iowa, roughly along a Davis to Scott County line.