The weather was nearly ideal in much of Iowa last week as planting got underway in earnest. According to USDA’s weekly Iowa Crop Progress Report released April 18, an estimated 13% of the state’s anticipated 2016 corn acres were in the ground as of April 17. The weekly survey showed an estimated 1.8 million acres were planted. When the first weekly crop report for the 2016 season was released a week earlier, on April 11, it showed no corn had been planted in Iowa—at least not enough to show up.
Related: Are your soils ready for corn planting? (Iowa Crop Report for week of April 11)
Farmers in Iowa have indicated they plan to plant 13.9 million acres of corn and 9.7 million acres of soybeans this year, based on USDA’s 2016 Planting Intentions Survey, released at the end of March. “When the weather is good and soils get warm enough, you want to plant corn as soon as you can,” notes Mark Licht, Iowa State University Extension cropping systems agronomist. Topsoil in many fields was dry when last week ended; the state generally needed some rain, which it is forecast to get this week.
Some areas of Iowa are further along in corn planting than others
ISU agronomists on campus at Ames hold a telephone conference call each Monday with the 12 ISU Extension field agronomists located around Iowa participating. The agronomists out in the field update the ISU campus staff on what’s happening in various areas. Licht says on April 18 it was reported that some farmers were planning to finish corn as soon as they can and were talking about starting to plant soybeans as soon as they get the corn planted. “That can be risky with snowstorms and cold weather still possible into May,” cautions Licht. “The downside is we can have frost in early May.”
Iowa corn planting progress is a week ahead of 5-year average
CROP REPORT: Iowa farmers had ample opportunities for fieldwork with 6.2 days suitable for fieldwork statewide during the week ending April 17, 2016, according to the USDA/NASS office in Des Moines. In addition to oat planting, corn planting began in earnest in most areas with scattered reports of soybean planting. Other field activities included tillage as well as anhydrous and fertilizer applications.
Topsoil moisture levels rated 1% very short, 10% short, 84% adequate and 5% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated zero percent very short, 3% short, 91% adequate and 6% surplus.
Iowa farmers planted 13% of state’s expected corn acres last week
Farmers planted 13% of Iowa’s expected 2016 corn acreage during the past week. Planting progress is a little over a week ahead of both last year and the 5-year average. Also as of April 17, the statewide survey shows 78% of the oat crop has been planted, almost 2 weeks ahead of average, with 15% of oats emerged. Iowa farmers were able to plant almost half Iowa’s expected oat acreage during the week ending April 17, 2016.
Pasture condition rated 2% very poor, 6% poor, 38% fair, 48% good and 6% excellent. Pastures have started greening. Livestock conditions were described as good, with dry weather beneficial for calving. Some cows and calves have been turned out to pasture.
IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—for week ending April 17, 2016
By Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship
This past week was a very dry week across Iowa. The only precipitation was a few sprinkles reported across far northern Iowa on Tuesday (April 12) night. Very light rain did finally move into far western Iowa late Sunday (April 17) night but occurred too late to be reflected in this week’s statistics. Typical weekly precipitation for this part of April is 0.82 inches.
Soil temps were in mid-to-upper 50s as week ended April 17
The crop reporting week began with unseasonably cold weather on Monday (April 11) and Tuesday (April 12). A hard freeze occurred over most of Iowa on Tuesday morning with temperatures falling to as low as 16 degrees at Sheldon, Spencer and Webster City. However, with only a few exceptions, Tuesday morning temperatures were not as cold as were reported with the freeze back on Saturday, April 9. A rapid warm-up commenced across western Iowa on Wednesday (April 13) with temperatures above normal statewide by Thursday. Temperatures were well above normal everywhere during this past weekend.
Daytime highs reached 80 degrees at Little Sioux and Sioux City on Wednesday while sunny skies allowed readings to climb even higher across eastern Iowa over the weekend when Davenport reached 84 degrees on both Saturday and Sunday. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged from two degrees above normal over far southeast Iowa to nine degrees above normal over the far northwest with a statewide average of 5.6 degrees above normal. Soil temperatures at the four inch depth were averaging in the mid-to-upper fifties statewide as of Sunday (April 17).