combine harvest
LAGGING: As of Oct. 22, a survey shows Iowa corn and soybean harvest remains behind last year’s harvest and the five-year average. More farmers say yields of both crops are better than expected.

Iowa corn 23% harvested, soybeans 61%

It’s not critical yet, but statewide farmers are running behind on 2017 harvest progress.

The latest weekly survey shows corn harvest in Iowa was only 23% complete as of Oct. 22; soybean harvest was 61% complete. Both are well behind the five-year average. Nationally, corn harvest is 38% complete; soybeans are 70% harvested.

Despite slow harvest progress due to wet conditions this October, north-central Iowa farmer April Hemmes has a more optimistic outlook for the crop that will eventually reach her bins at the end of this fall’s corn harvest. “Everyone around here is very happy with their yields this year,” she says.

“We had a lot of dry weather in Iowa during the 2017 growing season — in July and even in part of August. But the reports I’ve been hearing, even from some people in areas of the state most impacted by the summer drought, are that parts of their farm, even just a few miles apart, have places that got 3 or 4 inches of rain that made a 50-bushel-per-acre difference in corn yield. Corn here at our farm is doing very well.

Farmers took advantage of last week’s nice weather
“Much of the state finally received some nice harvest weather and farmers took advantage and harvested 10% of the corn and 29% of the beans in the state last week. Unfortunately, harvest for both corn and beans remain significantly behind the five-year average and at the slowest pace since 2009,” observes Mike Naig, Iowa Deputy secretary of agriculture.

The complete weekly crop and weather report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship website or on USDA’s site The report summary follows.

Summary of Iowa crop conditions
Iowa farmers had a good week for harvesting with five days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending Oct. 22, according to USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service. However, corn and soybean harvest progress remains behind both the previous year and the five-year average. On the positive side, there were several reports for both corn and soybeans that yields were better than expected. Activities for the week included harvesting corn for grain and soybeans, spreading manure, applying fertilizer and starting fall tillage.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 3% very short, 6% short, 79% adequate and 12% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 7% very short, 15% short, 71% adequate and 7% surplus.

Iowa corn crop 23% harvested, soybeans 61%
Nearly all of the Iowa corn for grain crop had reached maturity or beyond, three days behind average. And 23% of the corn crop has been harvested, remaining the smallest percentage harvested by this date since 2009 and over two weeks behind average. Moisture content of corn being harvested for grain averaged 20%. Corn condition rated 64% good-to-excellent.

Nearly a third of the state’s 2017 soybean crop was harvested this past week increasing to 61% harvested, but this is also the smallest percentage harvested by this date since 2009. Southwest and south-central Iowa remain the only districts to not reach 50% harvested. Soybean condition rated 64% good-to-excellent.

Pasture conditions have continued to improve for the fourth week in a row from recent rains to 35% good to excellent. Livestock conditions were reported as good, with reports of some cattle being turned out to graze cornstalks. Feedlots remain muddy.

Weather summary for Iowa
Harry Hillaker, state climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship, provides the following summary for week ended Oct. 15.

A welcome period of dry weather prevailed from Oct. 15 through Oct. 20 with rain returning between the morning of Oct. 21 and the morning of Oct. 22. Weekend rain totals of around an inch were common across central Iowa (roughly within 60 miles of Interstate 35), with a maximum reported total of 2.67 inches at Toledo. Meanwhile, less than a tenth of an inch of rain fell for the week over far northwest Iowa, with only 0.01 inch reported at Orange City.

4th-highest statewide average October rainfall
The statewide average rain amount was 0.67 inch, while normal for the week is 0.56 inch. This pushes the month-to-date statewide average rain total to 5.29 inches, the fourth-highest October total among 145 years of record (behind 1881, 1941 and 2009).

Meanwhile, the week began with seasonal temperatures on Oct. 15-16 with a light freeze scattered across portions of the northwest one-half of the state on the morning of Oct. 16. Well above-normal temperatures prevailed for the remainder of the week until a cold front moved across the state the night of Oct. 21. A few scattered locations reached 80 degrees F on Oct. 17, 19, 20 and 21 — with a maximum of 82 degrees at Burlington on Oct. 21. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 7.5 degrees above normal.




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