Wet conditions last week in Iowa kept many farmers out of the field. And with more significant rainfall forecast it will take several days with warm dry weather before fields are fit and farmers are able to start planting again. "Of the expected 2014 corn acres intended for Iowa, 15% have been planted, which is around 2 million acres, and this shows again that farmers can make a lot of progress in a short period when conditions allow," observes Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.
The weekly Iowa Crops & Weather Report, based on USDA's statewide survey as of April 27, shows Iowa, the nation's leading corn producer, has 15% of its 2014 corn crop planted compared with 2% a year ago and 33% as the average for the last 5-years. Iowa soybeans were 1% planted as of April 27 versus an 8% average for the last 5 years. Illinois, the number 2 corn producer has 32% of its corn crop planted—nearly matching the 33% average pace for that state and a big improvement over the 5% it had planted a week ago.
Nationwide, farmers have 19% of the corn crop in the ground compared with a 28% average for this date. Last year only 5% of the nation's corn crop was planted as of April 27. USDA's survey shows 3% of the 2014 U.S. soybean acreage is planted.
When should you switch to earlier maturity corn hybrids?
"Corn yields do not begin to decline rapidly until planting is delayed beyond mid-May," says Mark Johnson, an Iowa State University Extension field agronomist in central Iowa. "Today's corn hybrids appear to have more yield stability over time in the early part of the season. If planting is delayed until late May, hybrids characterized as earlier than 'full season' should be used, especially in northern Iowa."
He says a rule of thumb for changing hybrid maturities is: "If planting is delayed until May 25, select a hybrid that matures 5 days earlier than an adapted full-season hybrid for that area. If planting is delayed another 7 to 10 days beyond that, select a hybrid that matures another 5 days earlier than the previous one." So, it is far too early to switch hybrids, notes Johnson. However, you may want to check on the availability of somewhat earlier hybrids in case you need some a month from now, he adds.
Wet conditions continue to slow fieldwork in Iowa
The complete weekly Iowa Crops & Weather Report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship site or on USDA website. The report summary follows here:
CROP REPORT: Wet conditions continued to slow down fieldwork in Iowa during the week ending April 27, 2014, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. Average temperatures were above normal for the week except in north central and northeast Iowa. Cool soil temps remain a concern for farmers planting in the northern part of Iowa. Statewide there were 3.0 days suitable for fieldwork. Other activities for the week included applying fertilizers and herbicides.
Recent precipitation improved soil moisture levels. Topsoil moisture levels rated 4% very short, 15% short, 67% adequate and 14% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 14% very short, 36% short, 46% adequate and 4% surplus. Northwest Iowa remained the driest with 17% of topsoil reported in very short condition.
Only 15% of Iowa corn acreage planted as of April 27
Planting progress was ahead of the previous year's progress, but still trailed behind the 5-year average. Planting for oats was at 68% complete, 26 percentage points ahead of last year but 13 percentage points behind average. Statewide as of April 27 in Iowa 24% of oats had emerged, ahead of last year's 10%, but 18 percentage points behind the 5-year average. Only 15% of the expected corn acreage was planted, 13 percentage points ahead of last year but 18 percentage points behind average. Corn had started to emerge. There were scattered reports of soybeans being planted.
Pasture condition rated 10% very poor, 19% poor, 44% fair, 24% good and 3% excellent. Calving conditions were reported as poor with the wet conditions and cooler temperatures in some areas of the state.
IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—for week ending April 27, 2014
By Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship
The past reporting week, ending April 27, brought fairly typical late April weather to Iowa. The warmest days came at the beginning and ending of the period. High temperatures on Easter Sunday (April 20) varied from the low 60's northeast to mid-80's west and on Saturday (April 26) varied from the low 60's northeast to near 80 across southern Iowa. Below normal temperatures prevailed at mid-week with a freeze recorded over much of the northwest one-third of Iowa on Tuesday (April 22) while daytime highs were only in the upper 40's over parts of northeast Iowa on Wednesday (April 23) and Thursday (April 24).
Temperature extremes varied from Sunday (April 20) afternoon highs of 85 degrees at Jefferson, Little Sioux, Logan, Rockwell City and Sioux City to a low of 26 degrees at Sheldon on Tuesday morning. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 3.0 degrees above normal, varying from about a degree above normal over the northeast to six degrees above normal over the northwest.
Greatest rain totals this past week were across north central Iowa
Thunderstorms were scattered over most of the state on Easter Sunday into Monday (April 21) afternoon with locally heavy rain over parts of north central Iowa. Showers and thunderstorms were also widespread from Wednesday (April 23) morning into Thursday (April 24) evening with greatest amounts to around one and one-half inches in north central and south central Iowa. Finally, another period of showers and thunderstorms began Saturday (April 26) night and continued beyond the Sunday morning cut-off of this report.
Greatest rain totals for the week were across north central Iowa where Rowan recorded 4.02 inches and Mason City 3.77 inches. Only light rain fell across far northwest Iowa, along Highway 30 corridor from Ames to Denison and in the Burlington area. Sheldon and Sibley reported the least rain with 0.16 inches for the week. The statewide average precipitation was 1.09 inches or slightly more than the weekly normal of 0.93 inches.