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Iowa field in fall
STILL IN THE FIELD: Iowa has 4% of its corn and 2% of its soybeans remaining to be harvested as of the last week of November.

Iowa corn crop 96% harvested, soybeans 98%

Harvest 2018 is almost finished as winter weather blasts the Midwest.

Parts of Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois were hit with a major winter storm over the weekend, and crops left in the field will likely remain there for a while as temperatures aren’t expected to warm up much during the next seven days. Heavy snowfall is covering a wide area of southern Iowa, as well as parts of these other two states.

USDA’s weekly statewide survey as of Nov. 25 shows Iowa has 96% of its 2018 corn crop and 98% of its soybeans harvested. “There is some corn still in the field in the southern part of my territory. It probably won’t be harvested until spring,” says Rebecca Vittetoe, Iowa State University Extension field agronomist. She covers south-central Iowa and some of southeast Iowa. A little snow is one thing, but 12 to 17 inches of snow the last week of November will keep the combines out of the field.

Wet weather across Iowa earlier this fall delayed harvest from late September into mid-October. Many farmers couldn’t get into fields to harvest for two to three weeks, and once it quit raining, it was hard to catch up. You had to wait at least another four or five days for fields to dry.

“In southern Iowa, we had farmers with standability issues on corn and quality problems on soybeans with mold forming on bean pods and some beans sprouting in pods and pods shattering in the field,” Vittetoe says.

Despite the weather challenges, “yields overall were decent in south-central and southeast Iowa,” she says. “Corn was pretty average, and bean yields were down from last year in parts of my area. But we had really good yields the year before, so that was going to be hard to beat anyway in 2018.”

“Iowa farmers have dealt with numerous challenges throughout the 2018 growing season, including flooding in northwest Iowa and serious drought in the southeast part of the state,” sums up Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “The record precipitation we received this fall has resulted in one of the slowest harvests on record for Iowa.”

However, even with those challenges, many parts of Iowa reported record or near-record yields this year.

“We are fortunate to have tremendous farmers who do an amazing job producing crops and livestock that help keep us fed and fueled,” Naig says.

This is the final weekly Iowa Crop Progress and Condition Survey of 2018. The USDA survey and weekly report are scheduled to resume April 1.

The complete weekly Iowa Crop Progress and Weather Report is available on the Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship website at or on USDA’s site at The report summary follows.

Crop report
Iowa farmers had 4.4 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending Nov. 25, according to USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service. Activities for the week included harvesting corn and soybeans, baling stalks, applying manure and moving grain. Early in the week farmers were doing fall tillage, tile repair and anhydrous application, but those activities halted as declining temperatures, rain and snow arrived.

Topsoil moisture levels for the state are now rated zero very short, 1% short, 81% adequate and 18% surplus. Subsoil moisture is zero very short, 2% short, 79% adequate and 19% surplus.

The statewide survey shows 96% of Iowa’s corn crop has been harvested as of Nov. 25, still four days behind the five-year average. Farmers in northwest, north-central and central Iowa have harvested 98% of their corn for grain, while farmers in southwest Iowa have 13% of their corn remaining to be harvested. Moisture content of field corn being harvested averaged 16% last week in Iowa.

Iowa’s 2018 soybean harvest as of Nov. 25 is 98% complete, nine days behind last year and 12 days behind the five-year average.

Feedlots and pastures were messy with warming temperatures followed by rain and snow late in the week. Livestock conditions varied by area with some reports of no issues while others had trouble getting water, feed and bedding to livestock.

Weather summary
According to Justin Glisan, IDALS climatologist, Thanksgiving week was cooler than average for most of Iowa, although some areas experienced average seasonal temperatures. Northeast Iowa was up to 6 degrees F below normal, while parts of extreme western Iowa were a few degrees above average. Most of Iowa also experienced unseasonably dry conditions; widespread measurable precipitation did not fall until after Thanksgiving Day.

Nov. 19 was cold across much of Iowa, with average highs up to 20 degrees below average. Winds gradually shifted to a southerly direction Nov. 20 into Nov. 21, warming temperatures into the upper 40s and low 50s in the south. Northern Iowa observed low-to-mid 30s temperature.

Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, started with foggy conditions across much of Iowa. Sunny conditions then prevailed across the state, with highs reaching into the mid-50s in southwest Iowa.

Rain showers moved into Iowa early Nov. 23, bringing measurable accumulations statewide. Higher amounts were reported across eastern Iowa, with Muscatine in Muscatine County observing 0.35 inch, which was 0.27 inch above average.

Nov. 24 was pleasant, with highs reaching into the middle 50s. After partly sunny conditions for much of the day, increasing clouds signaled the next major weather system.

A strong low pressure moved into Iowa late Nov. 24 into Nov. 25, with a wintery mix of ice and snow. The system brought winds up to 40 mph and moderate to heavy snowfall across southern Iowa. Blizzard conditions and snow accumulations of up to 17 inches were reported in southeast Iowa.

In northwest Iowa, Sioux City in Woodbury County observed the week’s high of 62 degrees on Nov. 22, which is 20 degrees above average. In northeast Iowa at Fayette in Fayette County and Tripoli in Bremer County, weather stations reported a low of minus 3 degrees on the Nov. 19, which is 27 degrees below average.

Along Iowa’s eastern edge, Davenport in Scott County had Iowa’s highest rainfall total for the week at 1.83 inches.

TAGS: Weather
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