It was full-speed ahead last week in Iowa as corn harvest made great strides thanks to clear, dry weather. Farmers now have less than 20% of the state's 2014 corn crop left to harvest, and only 4% of the soybean crop, according to USDA's weekly statewide survey based on November 9 conditions. It shows 82% of Iowa's corn has been harvested and 96% of the soybeans.
"While the last bit of the crop remains to be harvested, its $1.75 billion to $2 billion worth of corn still in the fields," notes Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. A wintry blast of cold and flurries was moving into Iowa from the north on Monday November 10.
Frozen ground could help some farmers finish harvesting
Cold temperatures could help some farmers in southwest and south central Iowa who have struggled to get rain-soaked fields harvested this fall. Each of those regions has less than 70% of their corn harvested, the survey shows. Those farmers could benefit from frozen ground, and might be able to get into areas of fields that are soft, where soil has been too wet to get the combines in.
What about snow? High winds are also a concern because they could cause stalks to lodge, making the crop more difficult to harvest. Of course, corn never starts standing any better as harvest season stretches into November and corn remains in the field. "Farmers can continue harvesting as long as they don't run into too much snow," says Northey. "But you don't want to get snow into the combine because it messes things up, and could freeze inside the combine."
Some areas such as in southeast Iowa are running out of storage space. "It's getting tight as on-farm bins and elevators are pretty much full in some locations," says Northey. Thus, harvesting is slowed down as combines have to wait in the field for empty trucks to return from elevators where the lines are long. Corn is being hauled longer distances as farmers and truckers are looking for a place to go with the crop.
Southwest and south-central Iowa continue to lag behind
"Phenomenal harvest progress has been made the past two weeks and farmers are now nearly on pace with the five-year average, with 82% of the corn and 96% of soybeans out of the field," says Northey. "Southwest and south-central Iowa continue to be most affected by weather delays and farmers in those regions have only been able to harvest 69% and 67% of corn as a result of this fall's weather challenges."
The complete weekly Iowa Crop & Weather Report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship's website or on USDA's site. The report summary follows here:
CROP REPORT: Iowa farmers used the 6.6 days suitable for fieldwork to harvest just over one-fifth of the state's corn crop during the week ending November 9, 2014, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. This was the most days suitable statewide this crop season. Other activities for the week included fall tillage, manure and fertilizer application, corn stalk baling and tiling fields.
Farmers harvested 21% of Iowa's corn crop last week
Topsoil moisture levels rated zero percent very short, 5% short, 86% adequate, and 9% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 1% very short, 6% short, 83% adequate and 10% surplus. Southwest Iowa was wettest with over one-quarter of its topsoil and subsoil in surplus condition.
As of November 9, the survey shows 82% of Iowa's corn acreage was harvested, 2 days behind 2013 and 1 day behind the 5-year average. Corn harvest advanced 21 percentage points from last week, the most harvested during this week in November since 1993. With every other district between 80% and 93% complete, corn harvest in southwest and south central Iowa lagged behind with only 69% and 67% complete, respectively. Soybean harvest reached 96% complete statewide on November 9, which is 3 days behind last year but at the normal pace.
On-farm grain storage is rated 81% adequate to surplus
Grain movement from farm to elevator was rated 60% moderate to heavy. Off-farm grain storage availability was rated at 86% adequate to surplus. On-farm grain storage availability was 81% adequate to surplus. Hay and roughage supplies were estimated at 97% adequate to surplus. Livestock conditions were reported as normal.
IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—for week ending November 9, 2014
By Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship
Iowa enjoyed an unseasonably dry week last week with a statewide average rainfall of 0.08 inches compared to a weekly normal of 0.53 inches. Light rain fell across most of Iowa from Monday (Nov. 3) morning into Tuesday (Nov. 4) morning with showers and a few thunderstorms across the southeast one-half of the state on Wednesday (Nov. 5) night. Le Claire reported the most rain for the week with 0.35 inches while scattered locations across central and western Iowa saw no rain for the period.
Temperature ranged from 70 degrees to 19 degrees last week
Temperatures were above normal in most areas from Sunday (Nov. 2) through Wednesday (Nov. 5) and below normal for the rest of the week. Temperature extremes varied from Monday (Nov. 3) afternoon high of 70 degrees at Donnellson to Friday (Nov. 7) morning lows of 19 degrees at Elkader, Lowden and Stanley. Temps for the week as a whole averaged from 2 degrees below normal in far southeast Iowa to 5 degrees above normal over the far northwest with a statewide average of 1.7 degrees above normal. Soil temperatures as of Nov. 9 were averaging in mid-40's statewide.