The record early harvest continues and is picking up speed with 22% of the Iowa corn crop and 6% of the soybeans harvested as of September 16. Harvest is expected to continue to advance rapidly as farmers are eager to get their drought stressed crop out of the field before the stalks deteriorate further.
That's what USDA's latest weekly survey shows. Based on conditions as of September 16, the survey was analyzed and released September 17 by the Iowa office of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service in Des Moines. With 22% of the corn crop harvested by Sunday, that's more than three times faster than the usual 7% for this date, notes Greg Thessen, who heads the Iowa office and oversees the survey.
Although only about a fourth of the harvest is in nationally, reports are coming in from some parts of the Corn Belt that yields are better than expected. Jerry Peckumn, who farms near Jefferson in west-central Iowa, says he's been pleasantly surprised. He didn't get any rain from June until mid-August and thought he'd get only half a crop. But his yields are turning out to be about two-thirds of what he'd normally get. He says his whole field yield average will probably be about 165 bushels per acre, which tops the USDA forecast for Iowa which is currently 140 bushels per acre.
Better genetics in today's corn and soybean varieties helped yields in drought
In northeast Iowa, Tim Recker at Arlington, has heard of 180 to 200 bushel corn in some fields and some 60 bushel beans in his area. That's encouraging considering how dry this year has been. He's just getting started on corn. In north-central Iowa, Jay Lynch at Humboldt says the high 40s to low 50s will catch the early bean yields. Corn moisture is running about 20% now. He says corn on corn got hurt the most this year—smaller ears and smaller kernels. The rotated corn is yielding better.
Near Emmetsburg in northwest Iowa, Jim Stillman harvested 205 bushels per acre on a 70 acre cornfield. He caught a couple of rains this summer but thinks todays better hybrids have performed better in the heat and drought than expected. Farmers note that in the 1988 drought -- the last major drought in Iowa -- that was before the biotech era. Peckumn agrees that the better genetics in today's corn and bean varieties are helping crops get through the drought.
The complete weekly Iowa Crop & Weather report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship's website at www.IowaAgriculture.gov or on USDA's site www.nass.usda.gov/ia. The report summary follows here:
Mostly dry conditions, cooler temperatures speeding 2012 corn harvest
CROP REPORT: Mostly dry conditions coupled with cooler temperatures during the week aided harvest of Iowa's crops, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, Iowa field office. There have been a few reports of farmers completing corn harvest and moving to soybean harvest. One reporter mentioned "This is the earliest harvest I have observed in my career." The week's activities included row crop harvesting, fall tillage, haying CRP acres, and hauling water for livestock.
~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~There were 6.0 days suitable for fieldwork statewide during the past week. Topsoil moisture level is rated at 42% very short, 42% short, 16% adequate and 0% surplus. Subsoil moisture is rated at 59% very short, 34% short, 7% adequate and 0% surplus.
Eighty-eight percent of the Iowa corn crop is now mature, well ahead of last year's 52% and the five-year average of 44%. Twenty-two percent of the corn crop has been harvested for grain or seed, over three weeks ahead of normal. In fact, corn harvest is more advanced than it has been on September 16 since the NASS Iowa field office began keeping records. Moisture content of all corn in the field is estimated at 23% while the moisture content of corn being harvested is estimated at 19%.
So far, this has been the fastest harvest in Iowa since USDA's Iowa office began keeping records
Corn lodging is rated at 60% none, 22% light, 13% moderate and 5% heavy. Ear droppage is rated at 68% none, 22% light, 9% moderate and 1% heavy. Corn condition improved slightly and is now rated at 20% very poor, 28% poor, 34% fair, 17% good, and 1% excellent. Ninety percent of the soybean crop is turning color, ahead of last year's 67% and the five-year average of 75%. Fifty-four percent of Iowa's soybean fields are dropping leaves, a 28 percentage point increase from last week.
Six percent of the state's soybean crop has been harvested with northwest Iowa leading the way with 12%. Soybean condition improved slightly and is now rated at 12% very poor, 22% poor, 39% fair, 25% good and 2% excellent.
About 27% of Iowa's pasture is rated in fair or better condition, a 4% point increase from last week. Pasture condition is rated at 48% very poor, 25% poor, 22% fair, 5% good and 0% excellent. Livestock conditions for the past week were excellent. Some livestock producers are moving cattle to stalk fields.
IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—for week ended Sept. 16, 2012
By Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship
Temperatures over the past week averaged from 4 degrees warmer than normal over far northwest Iowa to 5 degrees below normal over the far southeast portion of the state. Tuesday (September 11) was the warmest day in most areas with afternoon highs varying from the mid-80s east to the upper 90s west. Meanwhile afternoon highs on Thursday (September 13) were only in the mid-50s southeast to upper 70s northwest while lows dropped into the 40s over most of Iowa by Friday morning.
Temperature extremes varied from Thursday morning lows of 38 degrees at Belle Plaine and Stanley to Tuesday afternoon highs of 98 degrees at Little Sioux and Sioux City (setting a record high for the date). Temperatures for the week ending September 16 as a whole averaged 0.2 degrees below normal. There was only one rain event during the week. Rain moved into western Iowa early on Wednesday and exited the southeast by Thursday evening. Rainfall of an inch or more fell over much of west- central and southwest Iowa but amounts of an under one-quarter inch were the rule over southeastern parts of the state. Rain totals varied from 0.07 inches at the Dubuque Airport to 2.20 inches at Glenwood. The statewide average precipitation was 0.58 inches while normal for the week is 0.80 inches. This was the 17th week of the past 19 to bring less than normal precipitation to the state.