During the first half of the 2018 growing season, farmers across Iowa reported how their crops faced challenges. Too much rain in northern Iowa, too little in southeast Iowa. Temperatures were too hot, but earlier in the season they were too cool. Now that the second half of the growing season is underway, overall conditions have improved for both corn and soybeans.
USDA’s weekly survey results, as of July 15, show northern Iowa is dealing with the aftermath of heavy rains and flooding that impacted many areas over the past month while parts of southern Iowa continue to face drought conditions. “Overall, Iowa crop development continues to run well ahead of the five-year average, with corn nine days and soybeans 6 days ahead of normal,” notes Mike Naig, Iowa ag secretary.
Last week Iowa had 5.3 days for fieldwork
The weekly Iowa Crop Progress and Weather Report is available on the Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship’s website iowaagriculture.gov or on USDA at nass.usda.gov/ia. The report summary follows.
Iowa farmers had 5.3 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending July 15, according to USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service. It was the greatest number of days suitable so far, this crop year. Activities for the week included harvesting hay, scouting crops, and both ground and aerial herbicide and fungicide applications.
Topsoil moisture rated 3% very short, 11% short, 76% adequate and 10% surplus. Subsoil moisture rated 4% very short, 12% short, 72% adequate and 12% surplus. In the northern two-thirds of Iowa the flood-related nutrient loss and crop damage are a concern while drought conditions in south central and southeast Iowa persist.
Iowa corn rated 78% good-to-excellent
Iowa’s corn crop is now 68% silked, USDA’s weekly survey shows. That’s one week ahead of last year and nine days ahead of the five-year average. Condition of the 2018 Iowa crop is 78% good-to-excellent.
The survey shows 65% of the Iowa soybean crop was blooming last week, with 21% of the beans setting pods, five days ahead of last year and six days ahead of average. Soybean condition is rated 75% good-to-excellent. Meanwhile, 73% of the Iowa oat crop was turning color or beyond as of July 15, with 18% of the crop already harvested for grain. Oat condition is rated 77% good-to-excellent.
The second cutting of alfalfa hay reached 72% complete as of July 15; that’s eight days ahead of average. Dry conditions allowed hay growers to continue harvesting. Hay conditions rated 71% good-to-excellent. Pasture conditions declined slightly to 62% good-to-excellent. Heat and high humidity continued to stress livestock.
According to Justin Glisan, IDALS climatologist, it started out with rain showers in northern Iowa, but much of the state saw below-average rainfall for the week ending July 15. It was generally warm and dry. Only the northeast and northwest corners of the state recorded higher than average rainfall, anywhere from 0.5 to 1.5 inches above normal. Statewide average temperatures were 3 to 6 degrees warmer than average.
Southern Iowa saw the warmest conditions, with temperatures 8 degrees above average by week’s end; average highs pushed into the mid-90s in southern Iowa.
A fast-moving storm system brought isolated severe thunderstorms from Milford (Dickinson County) to Laurens (Pocahontas County) during the late morning hours on June 10; there were a few reports of snapped tree branches and nickel-sized hail. The line quickly dissipated as it moved into central Iowa.
Warmest temp 101 degrees
On June 11-12, Iowa had hot and dry conditions, with only a few stations reporting measurable rainfall. Lamoni in Decatur County observed the warmest temperature of the week at 101 degrees, 15 degrees above average.
Thunderstorms moved into northern Iowa late June 12, in advance of a low-pressure system moving across Iowa June 13, bringing widespread measurable rain.
30 weather stations get inch of rain
Monticello, in Jones County, observed the week’s highest accumulation of rainfall at 3.94 inches; Bloomfield in Davis County reported 2.75 inches. Over 30 stations reported accumulations over 1 inch. Severe hail and high winds were observed from Shenandoah to Clinton in the east, and north to Decorah, with multiple trees and power lines downed. The weekend was generally quiet, with lingering thunderstorms across eastern Iowa on June 14.
That evening, isolated thunderstorms popped up in extreme southeast Iowa, dropping 0.74 inch of rain on Keokuk in Lee County. June 15 was a warm and humid day across Iowa with highs in the low-to-mid 80s, accompanied by heat index in the mid-90s and a few isolated thunderstorms.