After getting off to a terrible start this year, Iowa's corn and soybean crops are doing a lot better in mid-July. "We usually see the corn crop decline when we enter mid-July or late July but this year the crop is actually improving," observes Elwynn Taylor, Iowa State University Extension climatologist.
Iowa's corn crop now rates 62% good to excellent, according to the weekly weather and crop conditions survey released July 21 by Iowa Ag Statistics Service, the Iowa office of USDA's National Ag Statistics Service. Iowa's soybean crop now rates 61% good to excellent.
Overall, how does Taylor think Iowa is doing in getting a crop this year after the late planting and extremely wet conditions corn and soybeans endured in June? Both crops have bounced back impressively, yet Iowa crop progress is about a week to 10 days behind normal. Thus, Iowa will need good weather for crops to mature as corn and beans head into the September and early October period.
Iowa produces about 20% of U.S. corn crop
For the latest planted and replanted corn crops that went into the ground around June 30, those crops will need a later than normal date for the first killing frost.
Some areas of the northwestern Corn Belt, mainly South Dakota and Nebraska, are having extremely good conditions this year. But those outlying states don't make up the major portion of the U.S. corn crop. It still comes from Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. In fact, Iowa alone produces 20% of the U.S. corn crop.
"This past week, Iowa had another week of rapid crop maturation," says Harry Hillaker, state climatologist at the Iowa Department of Agriculture. The rapid growth and overall good weather of the last few weeks were welcome, but severe storms continued to cause isolated damage. Favorable sun and rain along with heat and humidity contributed to the advance. Heavy rain mixed with hail and strong wind in central and western Iowa caused isolated minor crop damage and soggy conditions, particularly for second cutting of this year's hay harvest.
Corn plants are shorter than normal
As of July 21, corn height averaged 61 inches, 20 inches behind last year at this time and 16 inches behind the 5-year average. Nearly one-third of Iowa's corn crop is tasseling. Corn condition statewide is rated at 2% very poor, 8% poor, 28% fair, 48% good and 14% excellent.
For soybeans, the weekly survey shows 53% of Iowa's beans are now blooming, 11 days behind last year and one week behind the 5-year average. Soybean condition rates 3% very poor, 7% poor, 29% fair, 47% good and 14% excellent.
Of the oat crop, 78% is turning color, which is 17% behind last year and 19% behind the 5-year average. Oat condition rates 2% very poor, 7% poor, 32% fair, 48% good and 11% excellent. Second cutting of alfalfa is 34% complete, 2 weeks behind the 5-year average. All hay condition rates 1% very poor, 6% poor, 30% fair, 49% good and 14% excellent. Pasture rates 1% very poor, 4% poor, 24% fair, 52% good and 19% excellent in Iowa as of July 21.