Between 3 and 7 inches of rain fell across Iowa from Wednesday night June 24 to Thursday morning June 25, causing localized flooding in the Des Moines area. Dumping that much rain on already saturated soils after wet weather in previous weeks, the continuing rainfall pattern is threatening crop yields, especially in southern parts of the state, say farmers and agronomists.
In some areas the soil has been too wet for farmers to finish planting soybeans, putting them close to crop insurance deadlines for getting seed planted. Even before last week's downpours, farmers had been coping with a high number of rainy days this growing season. "It wasn't that they had heavy rains. It was just that it rained so frequently in June the fields never really had a chance to dry out," says Mark Licht, an Iowa State University Extension agronomist.
Iowa could still have good crop, but likely not record yields
Not only does wet soil keep farmers out of fields, the extra water also keeps plants from taking up the oxygen and nitrogen they need, particularly soybeans. While it's too early to tell how the 2015 harvest will turn out, it's already clear it won't be another record year like Iowa had in 2014, says Grant Kimberley, director of market development for the Iowa Soybean Association. He also farms with his father in Polk County in central Iowa. There's a lot of truth in the saying—"beans don't like wet feet," he notes. "We could still have good production in 2015, but we're not going to have record yields."
Crop insurance policies will cover only those beans planted by early July, as late-planted crops have less-than-optimum yield potential. By taking the "prevent planting" option, farmers can forgo planting and not have the expense of planting, and they can accept 60% of their original crop insurance guarantee under certain policies.
Iowa's 2015 corn crop still rates 83% good-to-excellent
Despite storms and continued rainy weather, 83% of the state's corn crop was rated good to excellent as of June 28. Soybean condition rated 78% good to excellent, according to USDA's weekly crop conditions survey.
"The strong storms and heavy rains that rolled through Iowa last week have stressed crops, flooded some fields and limited farmers' ability to get needed work done," notes Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. "Spraying weeds, side-dressing fertilizer, making hay and other activities were all slowed by the wet weather. Some farmers in Southwest and South Central Iowa may be forced to take prevented-planting coverage on some fields they will not be able to plant before July 1."
The complete weekly Iowa Crops & Weather Report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship website www.IowaAgriculture.gov or on USDA's site at www.nass.usda.gov/ia. The report summary follows here:
Severe weather took a toll on some areas of Iowa last week
CROP REPORT: Severe weather rolled through Iowa last week. High winds, isolated hail, and plenty of rain occurred during the week ending June 28, according to USDA's National Ag Statistics Service. Statewide there were 3.0 days suitable for fieldwork. Activities for the week included cutting hay, herbicide and fungicide application, and some nitrogen side dressing. Excessive moisture is stressing some crops, causing small drowned-out areas, and preventing farmers from controlling weeds.
Topsoil moisture levels rated to zero percent very short, 1% short, 68% adequate and 31% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated zero percent very short, 2% short, 72% adequate and 26% surplus.
Southwest, south central Iowa farmers file for prevented plantings
In southwest and south central Iowa, farmers have begun to file "prevented planting" for any remaining corn and soybean acreage. Eighty-three percent of the state's corn crop was rated good to excellent as of June 28. Soybean emergence reached 96%, 11 days behind 2014. Soybean condition rated 78% good to excellent this week. With 90% of the oat crop headed or beyond, conditions declined slightly to 81% good to excellent.
Hay condition fell to 70% good to excellent this week due to wet conditions. The first cutting of alfalfa hay reached 83% complete. The second cutting reached 9%, one week behind average. Pasture condition rated 81% good to excellent. Muddy feedlots and increased insect pressure elevated livestock stress levels.
IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—For week ending June 28 2015
By Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship
Iowa endured a very wet and stormy week, for the seven days ending June 28. Thunderstorms were widespread on Monday (June 22), Wednesday (June 24) into Thursday (June 25) morning, Friday (June 26) and over eastern Iowa on Sunday (June 28). High winds raked much of northern Iowa on Monday (June 22) morning, with additional severe storms over south central Iowa on Monday afternoon. Hail and high winds were also reported over parts of southwest, south central and east central Iowa on Wednesday (June 24).
Heavy rains and flooding hit portions of central, south central Iowa
Torrential rains fell over portions of central and south central Iowa on Wednesday night with widespread flooding. However, parts of northwest and southwest Iowa saw only light amounts of rain with Sidney and Shenandoah recording only sprinkles. On the other end of the spectrum Waukee reported 7.98 inches of rain. The statewide average precipitation total was 2.13 inches, or nearly double the weekly normal of 1.17 inches.
Meanwhile temperatures averaged from one degree above normal over southwest Iowa to three degrees above normal over the northeast with a statewide average of 2 degrees subnormal. Temperature extremes varied from a Wednesday afternoon high of 94 degrees at Clarinda to a Tuesday morning low of 51 degrees at Elkader.