The end is near for this year’s harvest. USDA’s weekly statewide survey as of Nov. 18 shows Iowa has 91% of its corn crop now harvested and 97% of its soybeans. For corn, that matches last year’s harvest as of this date, but it is four days behind the five-year average. For beans, harvest 2018 is still slightly behind last year’s 98% and five-year average of 99%.
Last week’s harvest progress came despite wintry weather. Temperatures in eastern Iowa were as much as 12 degrees F below normal in some locations. Some areas also had rain and snow.
“This year’s nightmare harvest is continuing for me although we should finish on Wednesday, day before Thanksgiving,” says Sam Reed, farming at Red Oak in southwest Iowa. “We had rain delays earlier this fall, and rain and snow here lately. It’s been a challenging harvest. Lots of mud and wet spots to deal with in fields. We’ve been stuck so many times I’ve lost track.”
“Slow but steady harvest progress continues as farmers deal with challenging conditions to bring in their crops — rain, snow and freezing temperatures,” sums up Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “Farmers have been able to harvest 91% of the corn and 97% of soybeans so far, both of which are four days behind average.”
Tom Guinan, in charge of producer marketing for Landus Cooperative, which has a big footprint in Iowa, says, “As of today, Nov. 19, soybean harvest is virtually finished here in central Iowa and in most of the state. There are a few pockets in Iowa where areas of fields were ponded by wet weather earlier this fall. They still need to be harvested. Farmers are working to get this crop harvested and wrapped up. Southwest Iowa seems to be lagging the most for both soybeans and corn still in the field.”
The complete weekly Iowa Crop Progress and Weather Report is available on the Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship’s site at iowaagriculture.gov and on USDA’s site at nass.usda.gov/ia. The report summary follows.
Iowa farmers had a rather cold, 4.8 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending Nov. 18, according to USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service. Activities for the week included harvesting corn and soybeans, baling stalks, applying anhydrous and manure, moving grain, repairing tile, and performing fall tillage in areas where the ground wasn’t too frozen.
Topsoil moisture rates zero percent very short, 1% short, 81% adequate and 18% surplus. Subsoil moisture is zero percent very short, 2% short, 78% adequate and 20% surplus.
Iowa’s 2018 corn crop is now 91% harvested, four days behind the five-year average. Farmers in northwest and north-central Iowa have harvested 96% of their corn while farmers in southwest Iowa have 22% of their corn still in the field, remaining to be harvested. Moisture content of corn grain being harvested last week averaged 16%.
Soybean harvest is now 97% complete, five days behind last year and four days behind average, the survey shows. Feedlots and pastures have begun freezing with some areas reporting frost down to 3 inches. The adjustment to extremely cold temperatures and snow-covered pastures is causing livestock some minor stress.
According to Justin Glisan, IDALS climatologist, Iowa had another unseasonably cold and dry week during the seven days ending Nov. 18. Average temperatures were coldest in eastern Iowa, as much as 12 degrees below normal. The state experienced both rain and snow, though some locations in western Iowa reported no measurable accumulations. Statewide average precipitation was 0.17 inch, well below the weekly normal of 0.49 inch.
Lightly accumulating snow was reported in Keokuk in Lee County on Nov. 12, along with colder-than-normal temperatures statewide. Trace amounts were also reported in central Iowa. A strong high-pressure system over the Great Plains dominated the weather pattern for much of midweek. Nov. 13-14 were dry statewide, with average highs reaching the upper 40s across parts of northwest Iowa. A southerly wind helped temperatures warm into the upper 40s to middle 50s on Nov. 15. Northwest Iowa had daytime highs 10 degrees above average.
Snow moved into Iowa on Nov. 16 and lingered across the state into Nov. 17. Snowfall totals were over 3 inches in Iowa’s northeast third. The town of St. Ansgar in Mitchell County had 3.8 inches of snow. Snow showers reformed across Iowa’s southern half later in the day before moving out early Nov. 18. Accumulations ranged from a dusting to over 6 inches. Beaconsfield in Ringgold County reported 6.5 inches.
Bitter cold gripped northern Iowa to end the week. Some locations had overnight lows below zero the night of Nov. 17 into Nov. 18. Mason City in Cerro Gordo County reported a low of minus 6 degrees, breaking the record of minus 4 degrees set in 1894. Sioux City Airport in Woodbury County had the week’s high temperature of 60 degrees on Nov. 15, which was 13 degrees above normal. An overnight low of minus 6 degrees was reported at New Hampton in Chickasaw County on Nov. 18, which was 28 degrees below normal.