Wallaces Farmer

Some areas of Iowa received welcome rain this past week, but other areas of the state remain very dry and are in need of water.

Rod Swoboda 1, Editor, Wallaces Farmer

June 5, 2012

6 Min Read

Two weeks ago the Iowa corn crop was rated 81% "good to excellent" in USDA's statewide survey. Now it has slipped to 75% "good to excellent" as the state is experiencing dry soil conditions on about half of Iowa's 2012 acres.

"Much of the state received some welcome precipitation last week, but some areas still remain quite dry and are in need of moisture," observes Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. "The dry weather has allowed many farmers to spray for weeds and for other farmers to finish harvesting their first hay cutting."


The condition of the U.S. crop has slipped as well, declining from 72% in the "good to excellent" category last week to 67% "good to excellent" in the latest survey. The latest survey was completed Sunday June 3 and results were compiled and released Monday June 4, 2012. The market took notice of increasingly dry conditions in Iowa and the western half of the Corn Belt, causing cash prices to rise 16 cents per bushel to $5.68 and the December contract to rise 14 cents to $5.25 per bushel on Monday June 4 on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Iowa is now experiencing the driest conditions the state has had since 2006

Corn prices have declined by almost 20% since March, based on concern that farmers in 2012 are getting ready to produce a corn crop that will cause carryover at the end of August 2013 to grow substantially. However, the driest conditions Iowa has had since 2006 have at least temporarily put a floor under prices. The most recent 30-day rainfall totals for a large area of the Corn Belt this spring have been less than 50% of normal.


State climatologist Harry Hillaker notes "there isn't much significant rainfall forecast for the next seven days. We probably can't go much beyond a week without rain before we have some serious concerns." USDA rated 46% of Iowa's topsoil "dry" for the week ending June 3 compared to 51% a week earlier. Subsoil moisture is 45% short compared to 42% a week earlier.

The weekly Iowa Crops & Weather Report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship's website at www.IowaAgriculture.gov or on USDA's site at www.nass.usda.gov/ia.  The report follows here:

CROP REPORT: Northwest Iowa received the most rainfall this past week

Rainfall varied across the state during the past week with Northwest Iowa receiving the heaviest precipitation. Despite the rain, there are areas still in need of moisture. Crop conditions declined slightly for the second straight week although they remained rated mostly good to excellent. Ideal weather conditions have allowed some Iowa farmers to finish spraying their crops and complete their first hay cutting.

There were 5.1 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending June 3. Northwest Iowa was the only area with less than 4.5 days suitable as soils continued to dry out from previous rain. Topsoil moisture levels rated 15% very short, 31% short, 53% adequate, and 1% surplus. Southwest Iowa is the driest with 77% of the topsoil moisture rated short to very short. Subsoil moisture rated 11% very short, 34% short, 54% adequate and 1% surplus.

Iowa's soybean crop statewide is now rated 59% good and 12% excellent

Looking at the state's corn crop, 98% has emerged, which is 6 days ahead of normal. Corn condition is rated 1% very poor, 4% poor, 20% fair, 55% good and 20% excellent. Nearly all of Iowa's soybean acreage has been planted. Eighty-four percent of Iowa's 2012 soybean acreage has now emerged, ahead of last year's 71% and the 5-year average of 66%. The season's first soybean condition rating is 1% very poor, 5% poor, 23% fair, 59% good, and 12% excellent.


What about oats? About 56% of Iowa's oat crop has headed, over 2 weeks ahead of normal. Oat condition is rated 1% very poor, 4% poor, 23% fair, 59% good, and 13% excellent. The first cutting alfalfa of hay, at 88% complete, is well ahead of last year's 25% and 5-year average of 26%. Hay condition is rated 2% very poor, 6% poor, 26% fair, 54% good, and 12% excellent.

Also as of June 3 Iowa's pasture and range land is now rated 56% good to excellent, a 1 percentage point decrease from the previous week. Pasture and range condition rates 2% very poor, 9% poor, 33% fair, 48% good and 8% excellent. Livestock experienced little to no stress due to pleasant weather during the week.

IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—for the week ending June 3, 2012

By Harry Hillaker, state climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship

The past reporting week began with temperatures well above normal on Monday (May 28) with highs in the mid to upper 80s over the southeast two-thirds of Iowa. However, much cooler weather prevailed from Tuesday through Saturday with temperatures well below normal on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Temperatures edged back above normal over the northwest on Sunday (May 3). Temperature extremes for the week varied from a Friday (May 1) morning low of 37 degrees at Atlantic to afternoon highs of 92 degrees at Keosauqua on Monday (May 28) and Sioux City on Sunday (May 3).

Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 3.8 degrees below normal. This was only the second week of the past 16 to average cooler than normal, thus providing a welcome break from greater than usual rates of evaporation.

Statewide average rainfall was less than an inch and more rain is needed

Thunderstorms brought rain to all but far eastern Iowa from Sunday (May 27) evening into Monday (May 28) morning with one to three inches falling over the far northwestern counties. Light to moderate rain fell statewide from Wednesday afternoon into Thursday afternoon with amounts averaging around one-half inch. Finally, there were scattered light showers over the southwest one-half of Iowa on Friday night; over the far-east on Saturday and over the northeast one-half of Iowa on Sunday. However, only a very few locations picked up more than one-tenth of an inch of rain with the weekend showers.

Rain totals for the week ending June 3 varied from 0.35 inch at Bloomfield to 3.75 inches at Akron. The statewide average precipitation was 0.84 inch while normal for the week is 1.09 inches. Overall, the past week brought a welcome break from the persistent windy, dry and unseasonably warm weather that prevailed over central and southern Iowa the previous three weeks but more rain is needed.

About the Author(s)

Rod Swoboda 1

Editor, Wallaces Farmer

Rod, who has been a member of the editorial staff of Wallaces Farmer magazine since 1976, was appointed editor of the magazine in April 2003. He is widely recognized around the state, especially for his articles on crop production and soil conservation topics, and has won several writing awards, in addition to honors from farm, commodity and conservation organizations.

"As only the tenth person to hold the position of Wallaces Farmer editor in the past 100 years, I take seriously my responsibility to provide readers with timely articles useful to them in their farming operations," Rod says.

Raised on a farm that is still owned and operated by his family, Rod enjoys writing and interviewing farmers and others involved in agriculture, as well as planning and editing the magazine. You can also find Rod at other Farm Progress Company activities where he has responsibilities associated with the magazine, including hosting the Farm Progress Show, Farm Progress Hay Expo and the Iowa Master Farmer program.

A University of Illinois grad with a Bachelors of Science degree in agriculture (ag journalism major), Rod joined Wallaces Farmer after working several years in Washington D.C. as a writer for Farm Business Incorporated.

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