Iowa farmers took advantage of last week's favorable weather and planted about half of the state's 2015 corn acres, pushing total corn acres planted to nearly 70% as of May 3. "It was the largest percentage planted in this week in more than 20 years," says Greg Thessen. He heads up the Iowa office of USDA's National Ag Statistics Service in Des Moines, which conducts the weekly statewide crop progress survey.
"Conditions were nearly ideal in much of the state last week and as a result farmers were able to make tremendous progress. As of Sunday, May 3, our survey shows 68% of Iowa's corn and 11% of the state's soybean acres had been planted, both ahead of the five-year average," notes Thessen.
Ground this spring is nice and mellow for planting
"The ground this spring is in great condition, nice and mellow for planting," reports Rod Legleiter. He was planting corn near Kanawha in northern Iowa on Friday when a Wallaces Farmer editor had the chance to ride a few rounds in the tractor cab with Legleiter as he planted.
Last year only 22% of Iowa's corn and 1% of soybeans had been planted by this time, the weekly USDA survey report shows. The average for corn in Iowa is 39% planted and 5% for soybeans by this date over the past five years. "Despite progress made in planting this spring, corn emergence remains behind normal," says Thessen. Nationally, farmers had 55% of the U.S. 2015 corn crop planted as of May 3, and 13% of the nation's soybeans are already planted.
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Numbers in Illinois and Nebraska were similar to those in Iowa for May 3, 2015. Illinois posted 69% and Nebraska 57% complete for corn planting. That's well ahead of last year and the averages for those two states.
Dry weather last week let farmers make excellent planting progress
The complete weekly Iowa Crops & Weather Report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship website IowaAgriculture.gov or on USDA's site nass.usda.gov/ia. The report summary follows here:
CROP REPORT: Dry weather allowed Iowa farmers to make excellent progress in spring planting during the week ending May 3, 2015, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were 5.6 days suitable for fieldwork. Although the primary activity during the week was planting, other activities included fertilizer and herbicide application, as well as seedbed preparation.
Topsoil moisture levels as of May 3 rated 0% very short, 11% short, 84% adequate and 5% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 2% very short, 13% short, 82% adequate and 3% surplus. North central Iowa reported the highest topsoil moisture level with 99% rated adequate to surplus, while southwest Iowa recorded the highest subsoil moisture at 97% to surplus.
Iowa's corn crop is now 68% planted, soybeans 11% complete
Over one-half of Iowa's corn acreage was planted last week, the largest percentage planted during this week in over 20 years. Sixty-eight percent of the corn crop has been planted as of May 3, which is eight days ahead of last year and the five-year average. Farmers in central Iowa led the way with 80% of their corn crop planted. Despite progress made in planting, corn emergence remains behind normal.
Soybean planting reached 11% complete, five days ahead of 2014, and four days ahead of the average. Ninety-six percent of the oat crop has been planted, nearly two- weeks ahead of last year, and 12 days ahead of normal. Oats emerged reached 63%, one week ahead of last year, and four days ahead of normal. Emergence continues to lag behind in north central and northeast Iowa with only 55% and 50% of oats emerged, respectively.
Grain Handling & Storage Tips
A key component of the grain management and marketing equation is storage. Should you store most of your new crop and wait for a better price? Or, should you aggressively market in the fall? While the answer isn't the same for every farmer, those considering short- or long-term storage will likely need to sit down and run the numbers before settling on the most profitable option.
Pasture condition improved to 64% good to excellent. Pastures are starting to come along with the warmer temperatures, though cool weather slowed growth throughout the beginning of the season. There were reports of cattle being turned onto pasture and spring calving nearing completion. Poultry producers are still concerned with the recent outbreak of avian influenza.
IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—for week ending May 3, 2015
By Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship
Temperatures were near seasonal norms with afternoon highs in the 60s and 70s through Saturday with much warmer weather arriving on Sunday (May 3) when highs were in the mid-70s northeast to upper-80s over the northwest portion of Iowa. Temperature extremes ranged from a Thursday (April 30) morning low of 30 degrees F at Elkader to a Sunday (May 3) afternoon high of 89 degrees at Little Sioux. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged near normal over the southeast to about 4 degrees above normal over the northwest corner of Iowa with a statewide average of 2.3 degrees above normal.
Statewide average rainfall was way below normal last week
Meanwhile dry weather prevailed over most of Iowa from Monday (April 27) through Thursday (April 30). Light rain was scattered across the west one-half of the state on Friday (May 1) with showers and thunderstorms over the south one-half of Iowa on Saturday (May 2). Showers and thunderstorms were more widespread on Sunday (May 3) evening and night, but came too late to be reflected in this week's report.
Weekly rain totals varied from none over much of the northeast one-quarter of Iowa, and along the Minnesota border, to 0.91 inches near Hastings in Mills County of southwest Iowa. The statewide average precipitation was only 0.13 inches while normal for the week is 0.98 inches. The warmer weekend weather pushed soil temperatures at the 4-inch depth to the low- to mid-sixties as of Sunday (May 3).