USDA Survey Shows Iowa Corn Planting Going Slowest Since 1995

USDA Survey Shows Iowa Corn Planting Going Slowest Since 1995

Only 8% of state's 2013 corn acreage was planted as of May 5; way behind the 5-year average of 56%, according to USDA survey.

Iowa farmers have managed to get only 8% of the state's 2013 corn crop planted so far, thanks to the unusually cold and wet spring. That's according to the weekly USDA survey compiled on May 5 and released May 6. Looking at the average over the past 5 years, Iowa has had 56% of its corn planted by that date.

BETTER LATE THAN REPLANTED: Only 8% of Iowa's corn was planted as of May 5, 2013 and none was emerged. The 5-year average is 56% planted and 12% emerged for that date. No soybeans have been planted yet in Iowa, according to USDA's weekly survey released May 6. Normally, 10% of the beans would be in the ground by now. Cold, wet weather has kept farmers out of fields this spring but there will be a rush to get corn in as ground dries and weather warms.

"The extremely unusual weather last week resulted in little planting progress and now just 8% of the corn is in the ground, the least progress at this point since 1995," says Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. "We will need several days of dry weather and warmer temperatures so fields can dry out before farmers can get going again. Everyone is anxious to get their corn planted, fortunately farmers can make rapid progress when conditions allow."

Agronomists expect little drop in yield potential if corn is planted over the next week and a half
Warmer and drier conditions on Monday and Tuesday of this week are helping the ground dry out, but rain is back in the forecast for Iowa later this week. Spotty showers are expected, which means some farmers may get lucky and the rain will miss them.

"The rain, snow and sleet we received last week did have one positive effect," observes Roger Elmore, Iowa State University Extension corn agronomist. "Soil moisture conditions have improved significantly in Iowa. As this latest weekly USDA survey shows, 96% of the state's topsoil has adequate to surplus moisture, but only 28% of our subsoil is in that category."

Subsoil moisture in the northwest, north central, west central and southwest crop reporting districts of Iowa have the lowest subsoil moisture supplies, ranging between 37% and 46% short or very short.

Looking ahead to planting the rest of Iowa's corn acres—farmers will rush to get corn in the ground
"Once the soil dries enough planting will rapidly resume," notes Elmore. On Monday May 6 soil temperatures rebounded to over 50-degrees F across the entire state. Corn planted into warm soils in May emerges quickly. In Iowa, ISU agronomists generally recommend farmers try to get corn planted by May 10 to capture 100% yield potential. But later planting doesn't always mean lower yields, he adds.

Every decision that you make influences the size and scope for corn yields. From the corn hybrid you select to the seeding rate and row width you choose. Download our FREE report over Maximizing Your Corn Yield.


"While our normal planting date recommendations, based on multiple years and locations of data, is to plant corn early to maximize yield potential, keep in mind the soil conditions in your fields and weather forecast for your area. Those two factors should affect your decision as to whether or not you should plant," says Elmore. "Early planting doesn't ensure high yields--just as planting late does not foretell low yields."

Keep a close eye on the 8% of Iowa corn acreage that's already been planted
Elmore recommends farmers check fields and watch closely the corn that was planted prior to the cold, wet weather and snow that covered fields the first couple days of May. "Scouting that corn during emergence will be important to estimate seedling survival as well as the timing of emergence," he emphasizes. "Get out there and dig and see if the corn is germinating and coming up. We know that significant reductions in stand reduce yield. We also know that corn plants that emerge at different times set up a situation where you have dominant plants and also slower growing plants—a hierarchy that reduces the overall yield potential."

Once farmers get the rest of their corn planted, says Elmore, they need to go back and check the earlier planted corn, the corn planted in April, to determine if those fields need to be replanted. Visit his website for a "Replant Checklist" for information and guidelines on how to assess corn stands—especially problem corn stands.

Only 8% of Iowa's corn has been planted compared to 62% at this time last year
The weekly report is also available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship's website or on USDA's site.  The report summary follows here:

CROP REPORT: Dry and warm weather in the first half of the week ending May 5, 2013 turned to cold and wet weather by mid-week. Temperatures dropped low enough for snowfall to be seen across much of Iowa. Records for both May snowfall and coldest daily high temperature were set in some areas. There was an average of 2.3 days suitable for fieldwork during the week, according to USDA's National Ag Statistics Service. Most fieldwork was done early in the week before the turn in weather. Field activities included application of fertilizers and herbicides, tilling and planting.

Every decision that you make influences the size and scope for corn yields. From the corn hybrid you select to the seeding rate and row width you choose. Download our FREE report over Maximizing Your Corn Yield.


Topsoil moisture levels rated 1% very short, 3% short, 59% adequate and 37% surplus as of May 5. The precipitation received during the week continued to improve subsoil moisture levels. Subsoil moisture levels rated 4% very short, 24% short and 63% adequate and 9% surplus.

As of May 5 only 8% of Iowa's corn acreage was planted compared with 62% at this time last year and the 5-year average of 56%. Although farmers were able to plant some corn before the weather turned mid-week, planting progress is the latest since 1995. Some farmers delayed planting early in the week due to the forecasted snow and cold temperatures. A series of dry days is needed to permit planting to resume. Oat planting was 67% complete; at this time last year oat planting was complete. Twenty-three percent of the 2013 oat acreage has emerged, well behind last year's 88% and the 5-year average of 62%.

Pasture and range condition rated 10% very poor, 20% poor, 39% fair and 27% good and 4% excellent on May 5. Enough moisture has been received to promote new growth in pastures, but cooler than average temperatures have limited growth of grass.

IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—for week ending May 5, 2013
By Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship

What a week for weather across Iowa! The reporting period began with unusually warm weather on Monday (April 29) and Tuesday (April 30). Monday's highs were in the low 70's northeast to the mid 80's southwest and on Tuesday ranged from the upper 60's northwest to upper 80's east central. The warmer air brought a few thunderstorms to extreme southeast Iowa on Sunday (April 28) night and over northern areas on Monday (April 29) morning and again Monday night. Both episodes of storms on Monday brought large hail to some areas with tennis ball size hail reported near Dubuque Monday evening. A cold front slowly moved into the state from the northwest on Tuesday (April 30) and finally pushed into Illinois Wednesday night.

Every decision that you make influences the size and scope for corn yields. From the corn hybrid you select to the seeding rate and row width you choose. Download our FREE report over Maximizing Your Corn Yield.


High temperatures reached the mid 80's on Wednesday ahead of the front while snow was falling in northwest Iowa with temperatures only in the low 30's. Snow began in the far northwest early Wednesday morning with moderate to heavy snow falling Wednesday night over west central and north central Iowa. The snow slowly edged further east on Thursday with the heaviest snow falling from south central into north central Iowa on Thursday night and Friday morning. Finally, the storm system began to move back westward with snow persisting over far western Iowa into Saturday afternoon (but with no additional accumulation).

Meanwhile, eastern Iowa saw widespread moderate to heavy rainfall. Precipitation intensity generally decreased starting Friday afternoon but there were a few areas of heavier rainfall associated with thunderstorms over east central and northeast Iowa on Friday and Saturday. Warmer and drier air slowly worked their way westward across the state late in the weekend with highs on Sunday (May 5) varying from the low 50's northwest to mid-70's east central.

The week's snow amounts set new records for May snowfall in Iowa
The week's snow fall smashed all previous May snowfall records in Iowa. Storm total snowfall reached a May record 13 inches at Osage while the statewide average snowfall of 3.4 inches was nearly triple the previous highest May average set in 1947 (1.2 inches). Precipitation totals varied from 0.89 inches at Estherville to 4.52 inches at Iowa City. The statewide average precipitation was 2.22 inches while normal for the week is 0.98 inches. This was the third week of the past four with unusually heavy precipitation. Temperature extremes over the past reporting week varied from 26 degrees at Sibley on Friday to 89 degrees at Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Stanley on Tuesday. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged from 8 degrees below normal over the northwest to 3 degrees above normal over the far east with a statewide average of 3.7 degrees below normal.


Every decision that you make influences the size and scope for corn yields. From the corn hybrid you select to the seeding rate and row width you choose. Download our FREE report over Maximizing Your Corn Yield.

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