Spring 2014 Fieldwork Getting Underway In Iowa

Spring 2014 Fieldwork Getting Underway In Iowa

Some Iowa farmers began fieldwork last week, with a day or two of nice weather.

It's early and soil is still too cold to plant corn, but warmer temperatures allowed some farmers in Iowa to do a little fieldwork this past week. Some oats were planted and some fertilizer was applied during the week ending April 6, getting the 2014 cropping season started. This past week was also the start of the weekly Iowa Crops & Weather report for the 2014 season. The report, issued each Monday by the Des Moines office of USDA's National Ag Statistics Service, is based on a statewide survey.

SOIL STILL COLD: Iowa's soil is still too cold to plant corn but weather warmed up enough to allow some farmers to get in the field last week to apply fertilizer and seed some oats. USDA's survey for the week ending April 6 says Iowa had 1.7 days suitable for fieldwork.

"Farmers, like everyone else, are ready for some more warm weather that will allow them to get out in the fields and prepare for the growing season," says Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. "Soils remain very cool, with frost still in the ground in northern Iowa, and the soil will need to warm. Some fertilizer applications have started."

The weekly Iowa Crops & Weather report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship's site or on USDA's. The report summary follows here:

CROP REPORT: Warmer temperatures allowed some farmers in Iowa to do fieldwork during the week ending April 6, 2014, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were 1.7 days suitable for fieldwork.

Planters are emerging from machine sheds
Farmers are pulling planting equipment out of winter storage and getting it ready to go to the field.


Farmers in northern Iowa were able to get some fieldwork done early in the week last week before being halted by rain and snow. Southern Iowa farmers were able to spend more time in the field with the South Central District averaging four days suitable, the highest in the state. Activities for the week included applying fertilizer and seeding oats.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 8% very short, 30% short, 57% adequate and 5% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 16% very short, 44% short, 39% adequate and 1% surplus. Frost was still in the ground in most parts of the state causing little moisture to absorb to subsoil levels.

About 7% of Iowa's oats were planted as of April 6
As of April 6 in Iowa, 7% of the oats have been planted, 2% behind last year and 22% behind average. Pasture condition rate 19% very poor, 27% poor, 35% fair, 19% good, zero excellent. Most pastures were dormant or just starting to turn color. Livestock conditions were reported as good, except for areas where hogs have been affected by Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv).

In addition to soils being cold, Iowa is also still dry. For the week ending April 6, statewide average precipitation was 0.40 inches, about two-thirds of weekly normal. It was the 18th week out of the past 21 with below normal precipitation.

IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—for week ending April 6, 2014
By Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship

Iowa experienced typically variable early spring weather over the past week. The reporting week began with temperatures above normal on Sunday (March 30) and Monday (April 1) with high temperatures in the 60's northeast and 70's southwest both days. Little Sioux and Sidney reached 77 degrees on Sunday while Clarinda had the week's highest temperature with a 79 degree reading on Monday.


Across parts of northeastern Iowa this was the first time since November 17 that temperatures climbed higher than the 40's. However, a strong cold front entered northwest Iowa late Monday morning and passed through all of the state by that evening. Temperatures were below freezing statewide by sunrise Tuesday (April 1) with Holstein reporting a low of 14 degrees. Light rain fell across most of the state on Monday but with amounts mostly under one-tenth of an inch.

Considerable frost remains at depth in parts of Iowa
Cooler-than-normal weather prevailed for the remainder of the reporting week. Daytime highs were only in the mid 30's over northwest Iowa on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The week's heaviest precipitation fell on Thursday (April 3) with early morning thunderstorms bringing slightly more than an inch of rain to far southeastern Iowa while snow fell across the northwest one-half of the state. Keokuk Airport and Burlington reported the most rain with 1.33 inches while greatest snow amounts were reported at Sibley (7.8 inches) and near Cleghorn (9.0 inches).

Morning low temperatures on Saturday (April 5) fell to 16 degrees at Audubon and Atlantic. However, Saturday afternoon temperatures rose to the low 50's north to low 60's west. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 3.4 degrees below normal. Weekly precipitation totals varied from only 0.05 inches at Indianola to 1.38 inches at the Keokuk Airport. The statewide average precipitation was 0.40 inches or about two-thirds of the weekly normal of 0.64 inches. This was the 18th week among the past 21 weeks with below normal precipitation and below normal temperatures. The topsoil has thawed throughout the state but considerable frost remains at depth over parts of the northern one-half of the state.

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