“The weather in east-central Iowa has been fantastic for the last eight or nine days,” said Billy McKeever on Sept. 17. Farming in Jackson County south of Dubuque, he harvested an 80-acre field of soybeans that went 70 bushels per acre. Even farmers in southeast Iowa, where it was dry all summer until late-season rains came in August, say they are seeing bean yields “better than expected.”
Also, the late-season hay cutting is a nice surprise. “Last week was probably the biggest week of haymaking in a long time,” McKeever said.
Fields have dried up nicely since the previous week’s 5 to 8 inches of rain. Corn choppers are running hard, harvesting corn silage. “There is some limited corn for grain harvest activity just to the south of us here,” McKeever said. “I expect to see harvest activity pick up here in eastern Iowa, after this next rain event.”
Last week dry for harvest
A dry week of weather allowed farmers to get back into fields to make hay, chop silage and start harvest, with 2% of the corn and soybeans now harvested. With 53% of Iowa’s 2018 corn crop now mature and 50% of soybeans dropping leaves, “we will likely see harvest advance even more quickly if conditions allow,” says Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig.
Warm, dry weather gave Iowa farmers six days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending Sept.16, according to USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service. Activities for the week included harvesting hay, harvesting seed corn, chopping corn silage, harvesting corn for grain, harvesting soybeans and seeding cover crops.
Topsoil moisture is 1% very short, 5% short, 84% adequate and 10% surplus. Subsoil moisture is 3% very short, 7% short, 77% adequate and 13% surplus. Those are the statewide averages. South central Iowa — which was dry all summer — now has topsoil moisture supplies rated 75% adequate to surplus, for the second consecutive week.
Over half corn mature
The survey shows 94% of Iowa’s corn crop has reached dent stage or beyond, a week ahead of the five-year average. And 53% of the corn crop is mature, just over a week ahead of average. Corn condition is 73% good-to-excellent. Looking at Iowa’s soybean crop, 83% is coloring with 50% dropping leaves, eight days ahead of average. Soybean condition is rated 72% good-to-excellent.
The third cutting of alfalfa hay is now 94% complete, a week behind the previous year. Pasture conditions are 50% good-to-excellent. Warm and dry conditions this past week helped dry out feedlots.
According to Justin Glisan, IDALS climatologist, after a very wet beginning for September, Iowa had unseasonably dry conditions with no National Weather Service stations observing measurable rainfall during the week ending Sept. 16. The average expected weekly rainfall is 0.79 inch for Iowa for that week.
Temps warmer than normal
Statewide temperatures were also warmer than normal, especially in northwest Iowa. Average temperature departures were up to 11 degrees above normal. Sept. 10 was unseasonably cool, with average highs ranging from the low to upper 70s, as much as 4 degrees below average. New Hampton (in Chickasaw County) observed a high of 70 degrees, 5 degrees below normal. Waukon (Allamakee County) observed the week’s low temperature of 41 degrees.
A warming trend began Sept. 11, with temperatures rising into the upper 70s and lower 80s in Iowa’s northwest two-thirds. Sept. 12 was unseasonably warm with highs in the low to mid-80s. The town of Lowden (Cedar County) observed a high of 85 degrees, almost 8 degrees above normal. High pressure continued to dominate Sept. 13-14, allowing temperatures to remain above average. The weekend was very warm across Iowa with high temperatures well above average along with increasing humidity.
Up to 17 degrees warmer than normal
On Sept. 15, highs ranged from the mid-80s into the low 90s, up to 17 degrees warmer than normal. Sunday was the warmest day of the week with low to mid-90s across much of western Iowa and upper 80s over the remaining parts of the state. Clarinda (Page County in southwest Iowa) had the week’s high temperature of 95 degrees, almost 19 degrees above average.