Much Of Iowa Still Dry, Despite Recent Rain

Much Of Iowa Still Dry, Despite Recent Rain

Iowa received above-average rainfall last week, but more than half of Iowa's topsoil and subsoil remains deficient in moisture.

Iowa received 1.5 inches of rainfall in the seven days ending Sunday June 17, compared to a normal average of 1.19 for the week. However, the rain was spotty as parts of the state got hardly a trace while some areas received a lot more.

The government's weekly statewide survey rates Iowa's 2012 corn crop, which has just begun to silk in some fields, at 67% good to excellent, slightly below the 70% agronomists say is needed to get an average yield. Soybeans are rated at 61% good to excellent in Iowa, according to the Iowa Crops & Weather report released June 18 by the Iowa office of USDA's National Ag Statistics Service in Des Moines.

NEEDS RAIN: Variable weather across Iowa is testing crops already this season.

"Much of the state received timely rains last week, but the hot dry weather remains a concern and is impacting crop conditions," observes Bill Northey, Iowa secretary of agriculture.  "Pasture land in particular has been stressed and the result is less than half of Iowa's pastures are rated in good to excellent condition."

Iowa needs at least an inch of rain per week now, as corn is growing rapidly

Some areas of Iowa have received adequate to ample moisture as of mid-June, other parts haven't received enough. "The Iowa corn crop is starting to enter the grand phase of growth, it is growing rapidly, inches per day," says Iowa State University Extension corn agronomist Roger Elmore. "It's using a lot of water now and we're concerned as we look forward. We'd like to have an inch of rain per week as a statewide average. Until last week, we haven't been getting that."

How is root development of Iowa's corn and soybean crops this year? "Unfortunately there's not a lot of reserve moisture down in the subsoil," says Elmore. "Iowa's subsoil moisture ratings don't look good. We're going to have to rely on timely rains to get this crop through the summer—unless we get a lot of rain that recharges the subsoil moisture supply."


The corn crop, once it reaches the 12th to 14th leaf stage, is using probably a quarter inch to a third of an inch of water per day. "That means an inch of rain might give you only 3 to 4 days of moisture for the crop," says Elmore. "We really need to have timely, weekly rains in Iowa now, as we will soon move into the critical silking, tasseling and pollination period."

Expectations for high yielding corn crop withering in hot, dry weather

Can Iowa and the U.S. achieve the bumper yields projected by USDA for this year? Analysts are becoming increasingly skeptical, with dry soils and hot temperatures creeping northward into Iowa and other Upper Midwest areas. In addition, eastern parts of the Corn Belt, in particular Indiana and Ohio, are very dry. It's now a weather market with increasing concern the U.S. won't be able to reach the 166 bushel per acre USDA corn target in 2012.

The weekly Iowa Crops & Weather report in its complete form is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship's site or on USDA's site at  Here are the highlights:

CROP REPORT: Iowa subsoil moisture is rated 18% very short, 43% short

Rainfall amounts varied widely across Iowa for the week ending June 17, with most of the week's heaviest precipitation occurring in the southern half of the state. Corn conditions improved slightly for the week. Conditions for all other crops declined during the week, with the largest decreases in the northern third of the state.

There were 5.4 days suitable for fieldwork last week, compared with 6.7 days the previous week. Southwest Iowa was the only area with less than four days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture levels improved to 14% very short, 40% short, 45% adequate and 1% surplus. Subsoil moisture declined slightly and is now rated 18% very short, 43% short, 38% adequate and 1% surplus.

Corn has started to silk across much of Iowa, some soybeans are blooming

Corn has started to silk across much of the state with Southeast Iowa leading with 2% as of June 17. Corn condition is reported 2% very poor, 6% poor, 25% fair, 51% good and 16% excellent. Looking at the soybean crop, 98% has emerged, almost one week ahead of normal. Soybeans have started to bloom in each district of the state. Soybean condition is rated 2% very poor, 9% poor, 28% fair, 50% good and 11% excellent.

Ninety-five percent of the oat crop has headed, three weeks ahead of normal. Oat condition is rated 2% very poor, 6% poor, 31% fair, 53% good and 8% excellent. The second cutting of alfalfa hay, at 27% complete, is almost three weeks ahead of normal. Hay condition is rated 4% very poor, 11% poor, 32% fair, 47% good and 6% excellent.

For the second straight week, less than half of Iowa's pasture and range land is rated in good to excellent condition. Pasture and range condition is rated 6% very poor, 16% poor, 38% fair, 36% good and 4% excellent. Stress on livestock was minimal with no issues reported last week.


IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—for week ended June 17, 2012

By Harry Hillaker, state climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship

The week ending June 17 brought seasonal temperatures and welcome rainfall to Iowa. There were four episodes of widespread rain with the first coming on Sunday (June 10) night into Monday (June 11) with rain falling over all but extreme northwest Iowa with one to three inch totals over parts of southwest Iowa. The second event on Thursday (June 14) evening brought rain to the northwest one-half of the state with heaviest rains of one to two inches again coming over southwest Iowa.

The next event from Friday (June 15) into Saturday morning brought rain to all but the extreme northwest and northeast corners of Iowa with greatest amounts over central Iowa. Finally, rain fell across the southeast one-half of Iowa on Saturday (June 16) with amounts of one to two inches near the Missouri border. Rain totals for the week varied from only 0.15 inches at Sibley to 5.17 inches at Red Oak. The statewide average precipitation was 1.50 inches while normal for the week is 1.19 inches.

Temperatures averaged slightly above normal on Monday (June 11) with much cooler weather on Tuesday (June 12) and Wednesday (June 13) when high temperatures were mostly in the 70s. The remainder of the week saw slowly rising temperatures and humidity with highs mostly in the 80s with a few 90s. Temperature extremes varied from a Tuesday morning low of 41 degrees at Sibley to a Thursday afternoon high of 94 degrees at Little Sioux. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 0.4 degrees above normal. There were some reports of high winds and hail across the northwest quarter of Iowa on Thursday and mainly across far southern Iowa on Saturday

TAGS: USDA Extension
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