Weather this spring hasn’t been favorable for fieldwork, and that trend continued last week in Iowa. USDA’s latest weekly statewide survey shows as of May 12, Iowa farmers have 48% of the state’s 2019 corn crop now in the ground. This is only the fifth time in 40 years that less than half of the expected crop has been planted by May 12.
West-central Iowa has the highest percentage of corn planted at 67%; northeast Iowa has the lowest at 24%. Five percent of the Iowa corn crop has emerged, five days behind last year and over a week behind average. The survey shows 13% of Iowa’s expected soybean crop is now planted, six days behind both last year and average. Just 1% of the bean crop has emerged, two days behind average.
With flooding in some areas along the Mississippi River on Iowa’s eastern edge last week, Jim Simpson, farming in the flood-hit area around Davenport in Scott County, observed: “We haven’t planted a thing. This is our latest start ever. With the flooding here in eastern Iowa now, and earlier in the Missouri River Valley in western Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri, yields will be down, and planted acres will be down this year. The Mississippi River is forecast to be out of it’s banks until June in eastern Iowa.”
“Some parts of the state are four to six days behind this time last year, in terms of planting progress,” notes Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. "The short-term weather outlook this week is trending drier than expected and temperatures should warm up. This should create a window of dry weather for farmers to hopefully catch up somewhat on planting.”
Nationwide corn planting gained a little ground last week but remains over halfway behind the five-year average planting pace. As of May 12, USDA pegged U.S. corn planting at 30% complete, significantly behind the five-year average of 66%. Also, 10% of the nation’s corn crop has now emerged vs. a five-year average of 29%.
While Iowa farmers had 48% of their corn crop planted compared to a five-year average of 76%, Illinois farmers are even farther behind. Illinois had 11% of its corn planted as of May 12, compared to a five-year average of 82%. Nebraska farmers have just 46% of their corn planted vs. a five-year average of 72%.
USDA pegs U.S. soybean planting at 9% complete versus a five-year average of 29%. While Iowa has 13% of its soybean crop planted, Illinois has 3% planted, versus a five-year average of 34%. Nebraska soybean growers have 20% of their crop in the ground, versus a five-year average of 32%.
The complete weekly Iowa Crop Progress an Weather Report is available on USDA’s site at nass.usda.gov/ia.
Fieldwork was limited as rain across Iowa held farmers to just 1.9 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending May 12, according to USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service. Below-normal temperatures continued to slow crop emergence. Topsoil moisture for the state rated 0% very short, 1% short, 67% adequate and 32% surplus. Subsoil moisture rated 0% very short, 1% short, 66% adequate and 33% surplus.
Statewide, with just 48% of the expected Iowa corn crop planted, that’s over a week behind average. The survey shows 5% of the corn crop has emerged, five days behind last year at this time and over a week behind average.
Looking at Iowa’s expected 2019 soybean crop, 13% of those acres have now been planted, six days behind both last year and average. Only 1% of Iowa’s bean crop has emerged, two days behind average. Iowa’s oat crop is now 91% planted, one day ahead of last year, but four days behind average. And 55% of the oat crop has emerged, two days ahead of last year, but a week behind average.
The first hay condition rating of the 2019 season shows the Iowa crop is 1% very poor, 6% poor, 31% fair, 54% good and 8% excellent. Recent rains helped green up pastures, but growth remains slow due to below-normal temperatures across Iowa. Pasture condition is 61% good-to-excellent, equal to the previous week. Rain this past week resulted in muddy feedlots again.
According to Justin Glisan, IDALS climatologist, cooler-than-normal conditions during the first few days of May continued through the week ending May 12. Temperatures averaged 8 to 10 degrees F cooler than normal in northwest Iowa and 4 to 6 degrees cooler than normal in the rest of the state. Wetter-than-normal conditions slowed fieldwork in western and northern Iowa, with the highest rainfall totals for the week in southwest Iowa.
Isolated thunderstorms swept across Iowa on Sunday afternoon (May 5) into Monday morning as a cold front moved through the state. There were two reports of 1-inch hail in Callender (Webster County) and Elkader (Clayton County).
Monday afternoon into the evening saw widespread showers and thunderstorms in Iowa associated with a low-pressure system moving through northern Missouri. The highest accumulation was reported at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning with 2.11 inches at Keokuk (Lee County). The average statewide rain total was 0.25 inch. High temperatures ranged from mid-to-upper 50s in the west and north to low 70s in the southeast corner of Iowa.
Tuesday and Wednesday marked the wettest period of the week as another low-pressure system brought ample rain to Iowa. Over 70 stations reported two-day rain totals above 1 inch, with all remaining stations reporting measurable rain. The average statewide rain accumulation was 0.63 inch. Little Sioux (Harrison County) had 2.15 inches.
Thursday was the coldest day of the week. Daytime highs averaged 50 degrees statewide, 20 degrees below average. Cresco (Howard County) had a high of 44 degrees, 23 degrees below average. Overnight lows into Friday were 10 degrees below average, at 36 degrees. Mostly sunny and cooler conditions prevailed Friday with light variable winds out of the north and west.
Rain moved through parts of Iowa over the weekend, with both days having measurable totals. Saturday began with light showers moving into southern and eastern Iowa before dissipating in the afternoon. Another line of light-to-moderate showers entered western Iowa ahead of a slow-moving cold front. The line continued across the state into Sunday, with most western stations reporting totals between 0.25 inch to under an inch; Denison (Crawford County) reported 0.80 inch. Weekend temperature highs were in the low-to-mid 50s, 10 to 20 degrees below average.
Weekly rainfall totals ranged from 0.38 inch in Davenport (Scott County) to 2.90 inches in Shenandoah (Page County). Statewide average rainfall for the week was slightly above average, at 1.2 inches. Temperatures averaged 51.2 degrees, 7 degrees below normal. The week’s high of 80 degrees was May 6 at Keokuk (Lee County), 9 degrees warmer than average. Sibley (Osceola County) reported the week’s low temperature of 30 degrees on May 10, 13 degrees below average.