Wet weather kept Iowa farmers from finishing planting the state’s corn and soybean crops last week. The latest statewide USDA weekly survey shows 97% of the corn is in the ground as of May 24 and 92% of the soybeans. That’s still about two weeks ahead of the five-year average for both crops. The first corn condition rating of the season was issued. Iowa’s young crop is rated 0% very poor, 2% poor, 17% fair, 67% good and 14% excellent.
“We’ve had it all. Too cold, too hot, too dry and now too wet.” That’s how Paul Kassel sums up this spring’s planting season. “In the last few weeks, we’ve had all of that for the young 2020 corn and soybeans,” says the Iowa State University Extension field agronomist, based at Spencer in northwest Iowa. Many farmers in his area completed corn and soybean planting in April this year, earlier than unusual. With above-normal temperatures in late April, some corn was emerging already in early May. But since that first week of May, there’s been a definite change in weather.
“We’ve had cool weather since then,” Kassel says. “With soybeans planted in early May, some are still emerging. May is ending up about 100 growing-degree day units below normal. It’s kind of wiped out the advantage we had with the early planting in late April. We didn’t have a huge problem with frost damage to corn and soybean seedlings in May. Some plants here and there got nipped. But it wasn’t a wide-scale problem. There was lots of concern about it, but the bigger concern is the cool weather in May, and corn and soybean crops developing slowly.”
The Memorial Day holiday weekend brought warmer weather and some sun, which helped advance crop development in Iowa. “Showers and thunderstorms are forecast for the next few days,” notes Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig. “But I expect farmers will be able to resume fieldwork later this week as drier weather is forecast."
The complete weekly Iowa Crop Progress and Condition report is available on USDA’s site at nass.usda.gov/ia.
Rain throughout the week resulted in only 2.5 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending May 24, according to USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service. Below-normal temperatures have slowed crop growth. Topsoil moisture rated 0% very short, 2% short, 76% adequate and 22% surplus. Subsoil moisture rated 1% very short, 3% short, 79% adequate and 17% surplus.
Iowa farmers have planted 97% of the expected corn crop, three weeks ahead of last year and almost two weeks ahead of the five-year average. Corn emergence was at 82%, an improvement of 20% from the previous week. The first corn condition rating of the season was issued. As of May 24, Iowa’s crop rated 0% very poor, 2% poor, 17% fair, 67% good and 14% excellent.
Iowa’s soybean crop moved to 92% planted, nearly a month ahead of last year and over two weeks ahead of average. Farmers in southwest Iowa have over 25% of their soybeans left to plant. Looking at the statewide average, Iowa’s soybean crop is now 52% emerged, doubling the amount of soybeans emerged from the previous week. Iowa’s oat crop is now 95% emerged. Oat condition is rated 81% good-to-excellent.
Hay condition is 73% good-to-excellent. Pasture has improved to 66% good-to-excellent. There was little stress on livestock last week although feedlots remain muddy.
Under a stagnant atmospheric pattern across the Midwest, Iowa experienced cool and cloudy conditions through much of last week. “The persistent cloud cover and sluggish large-scale flow didn’t allow temperatures to fluctuate significantly between daytime and nighttime over several days,” reports Justin Glisan, state climatologist at the Iowa Department of Agriculture. “Temperatures were as much as 4 degrees below normal, with the statewide average temperature of 60.7 degrees, 2.6 degrees below normal. Measurable rainfall was reported statewide, though below-average totals were observed at a majority of the reporting stations.”
Weekly rain totals ranged from 0.03 inch in Keosauqua (Lee County) to 2.14 inches in Maquoketa (Jackson County). Statewide weekly average precipitation was 0.79 inch, while normal is 1.05 inches. Keokuk Lock and Dam (Lee County) reported the week’s high temperature of 88 degrees on May 24, which was 12 degrees above normal. Sibley (Osceola County) reported the week’s low temperature of 45 degrees on May 18, 1 degree below normal.
U.S. corn 88% complete
Looking at the national picture, USDA says U.S. farmers now have 88% of the 2020 corn crop in the ground. That’s ahead of the five-year average of 82% for May 24 but below the grain trade’s expectation of 90%. Individual states such as North Dakota and South Dakota have just 54% and 86% planted, respectively. Meanwhile, 64% of the nation's corn has emerged vs. a 58% five-year average. In its first crop rating of the year, USDA estimates the U.S. corn crop is 70% good-to-excellent.
For soybean planting as of May 24, USDA rates the nation's crop at 65% complete, versus a 55% five-year average. That’s below the grain trade’s expectation of 70%. USDA says 35% of the U.S. soybean crop has emerged, versus a five-year average of 27%.