Planting progress this spring remains slow in Iowa due to continued wet field conditions in much of the state. Farmers are getting some planting done when weather allows, with 2% of the corn and 42% of oats now planted, but progress on both crops remain behind the five-year average. That’s what the latest weekly statewide Iowa Crop Progress and Weather Report shows for the seven days ending April 16.
“With wet weather forecast to return this week, we would expect further delay in significant planting progress,” says Greg Thessen, director of the USDA National Ag Statistics Service office in Des Moines, which conducts the weekly survey.
A few southwest Iowa farmers began planting corn last week. “We had to take advantage of the nice weather on Wednesday [April 12],” says Jay Longinaker, farming with his son, Will, near Randolph. “Last year we had a warm early spell, and we didn’t start planting. Then it began raining, and we had to wait for fields to dry, and we got started late. So this spring we thought we better plant corn when the sun shines.”
Need good yields, better prices
The elder Longinaker is president and chairman of Tri-Valley Bank, located at Randolph and Essex. Like everyone else, he’s hoping for higher prices for the new crop. “Prices currently are below cost of production for corn and soybeans for most people, and there isn’t much you can do with futures prices to lock in a profit right now,” he notes. “This could be a tough year for a lot of farmers.”
The complete weekly crop and weather report is at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and USDA NASS. Following is the crop report’s preliminary summary.
Summary of crop report
Rain continued to be an issue for Iowa farmers with just three days suitable for fieldwork statewide for the week ending April 16, according to NASS. Corn planting has been limited as farmers are patiently waiting for warmer and drier soil conditions. Other field activities last week included some burning of Conservation Reserve Program acres; anhydrous ammonia, manure and fertilizer applications; and some field cultivation where soil conditions allowed.
Topsoil moisture statewide rated zero percent very short, 1% short, 74% adequate and 25% surplus. Subsoil moisture rated 1% very short, 3% short, 76% adequate and 20% surplus. Southeast Iowa continues to have the lowest subsoil moisture levels, with 30% rated short to very short.
Only 2% of Iowa’s expected corn acreage has been planted, five days behind the previous year and three days behind the five-year average. Iowa’s 2017 oat crop, at 42% planted, is four days behind average, with 10% of the oats already emerged. In northwest, west-central and central Iowa, farmers have planted over half of their expected oat acreage.
Pasture condition is rated 3% very poor, 4% poor, 24% fair, 57% good and 12% excellent. Pastures have begun to show good growth with some cows and calves already turned out into fields. Livestock conditions are good, although many feedlots remain muddy.
Weather summary for Iowa
Temperatures were well above seasonal normal, except from April 11 into the morning of April 12. A freeze was recorded over extreme western Iowa the morning of April 11, with temperatures falling to 23 degrees F at Little Sioux and Sioux City. A light freeze also occurred over northeast Iowa the morning of April 12, with Elkader reporting the lowest temperature at 28 degrees.
Warmest weather was from April 13 through April 15. Afternoon highs on April 13 reached 81 degrees at Donnellson and Keokuk, while highs on April 15 reached 82 degrees at Donnellson, Indianola, Keosauqua and Ottumwa. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged from 4 to 6 degrees above normal in the northwest to 8 to 10 degrees above normal over the southeast. The statewide average last week was 7.8 degrees greater than normal for mid-April.
Showers and thunderstorms were scattered across the state from April 9 at night into the afternoon of April 10, with greatest rain amounts of a quarter- to a half-inch falling over the far southeast. Showers and thunderstorms were again scattered over much of the state the night of April 12 into the morning of April 13, with greatest rain amounts occurring across northeast Iowa, where a few locations saw up to two-thirds of an inch. However, the bulk of the week’s rain came from statewide thunderstorms on both April 14 and April 15.
Greatest rain amounts generally were along and east of Interstate Highway 35 with only a few areas in western Iowa picking up more than an inch of rain. Severe storms brought reports of large hail to 24 counties the afternoon and evening of April 15, with hail up to tennis-ball size reported in Plymouth, Warren and Black Hawk counties. Easter Sunday, April 16, was dry statewide.
Weekly rain totals varied from 0.15 inch at Lorimor in Union County to 3.94 inches at both Fairfax and Marion in Linn County. Statewide average precipitation was 1.14 inches, or nearly double the weekly normal of 0.61 inch. Soil temperatures as of April 16 averaged in the low 50s over far northwest Iowa to around 60 degrees over the southern half of the state.