The latest USDA weekly survey, released Nov. 25, shows Iowa farmers have completed soybean harvest for 2019, but corn harvest still hasn’t reached the finish line. With 86% of the state’s corn crop now in the bin, Iowa remains 10 days behind last year and two weeks behind the five-year average for harvest progress.
“Soybean harvest is officially complete, but farmers are still working on getting corn out of the fields,” says Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig. “With snow in the forecast, farmers are pushing hard to wrap up harvest this week.”
USDA pegs the U.S. corn harvest at 84% complete, lagging the five-year average of 96% for this date. While Illinois and Iowa, the two-largest corn-producing states have 12% and 14%, respectively, of their corn still in the field, North Dakota has 70% of its corn yet to be harvested. South Dakota has 68% of its corn harvested, compared to a five-year average of 96%. Wisconsin and Michigan are only half-done harvesting corn.
With wet corn in the field and propane shortages for grain drying, some farmers may leave some corn standing in the field over winter and harvest it in the spring. “That’s certainly not an ideal situation, but as long as you can dodge heavy snow and strong winds, corn can hold up fairly well,” says Iowa State University grain quality and storage specialist Charlie Hurburgh. “If you leave corn in the field overwinter, typically the grain moisture will be somewhere in the 18% to 19% range in spring.”
Assuming the winter is cold, the corn won’t develop excessive mold problems if left standing in the field. “But the longer you leave it in the field in warm weather in the spring, the more problems are going to occur,” Hurburgh says. “It’s not a total disaster if corn has to stay in the field over winter, but the real risk is wind and snow knocking the crop to the ground.”
The complete weekly Iowa Crop Progress and Conditions Report is available on USDA’s website, nass.usda.gov.
Rain and recent snowmelt across Iowa delayed harvest and other fieldwork progress as farmers were held to 4.5 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending Nov. 24, according to USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service. Propane shortages across Iowa remain an issue as farmers try to dry their corn due to high moisture content.
Topsoil moisture condition is rated 0% very short, 1% short, 83% adequate and 16% surplus. Subsoil moisture is rated 0% very short, 2% short, 82% adequate and 16% surplus. Iowa’s corn crop is now 86% harvested, 10 days behind last year and two weeks behind the five-year average. Producers in northwest, north-central and southeast Iowa have harvested 90% or more of their expected crop, while harvest in northeast and south-central Iowa is below 80% complete. Iowa corn being harvested for grain averaged 19% moisture content last week.
Livestock producers have been feeding hay and continue to allow cattle to graze on cornstalks. The increase in temperatures this past week reduced stress on livestock.
After six consecutive weeks of colder-than-normal conditions across the state, unseasonable warmth returned to Iowa. The statewide average temperature was 36.7 degrees F, 2.4 degrees above norma, with positive departures of up to 6 degrees in northwest Iowa. Wetter-than-normal conditions were also reported across much of the state. Rainfall totals were 0.60 inch above average in north-central Iowa. Southeast Iowa observed precipitation deficits ranging from 0.20 to 0.40 inch.
That summary for the week of Nov. 18-24 is provided by Justin Glisan, state climatologist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture. He also provides the daily details.
A cold front continued to push across Iowa through Sunday (Nov. 17) afternoon bringing light rain showers to the state. As the system cleared eastern Iowa, winds shifted to a northwesterly direction. Daytime highs ranged from the mid-30s north to the mid-40s south under cloudy skies. Rain totals at 7 a.m. Monday were generally under 0.25 inch, with slightly higher totals in eastern Iowa; DeWitt (Scott County) reported 0.28 inch. Temperature departures were up to 20 degrees above normal, with a statewide average high of 55 degrees, 12 degrees warmer than normal.
Overnight lows into Tuesday (Nov. 19) stayed in the 30s, with isolated reports of frozen fog in eastern Iowa. Morning temperatures averaged 31 degrees across the state, 6 degrees above normal. Light showers pushed out of eastern Iowa through the morning hours with partly sunny conditions across most of the state into the evening.
High temperatures were well above average, reaching into the mid to upper 50s in southern Iowa. Overnight lows into Wednesday remained in the 30s as cloud cover moved into the state. Skies gradually cleared through the early afternoon hours with gusty winds out of the southeast. Daytime highs were unseasonably warm, climbing into the mid-50s across northern Iowa and low 60s in southwest Iowa.
Clouds began to increase into the evening hours ahead of a low-pressure system that moved across the state from Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Rain totals were highest in northern Iowa, with Northwood (Worth County) reporting an inch. All stations across the state reported measurable rainfall with a statewide average total of 0.45 inches.
The system exited northeast Iowa during the early afternoon hours with cloudy conditions and northerly winds persisting. High temperatures stayed in the 30s across much of Iowa with low 40s in the state’s southeast corner.
From 65 to 12 degrees
Cloud cover gradually moved out as a high-pressure system propagated into Iowa during the day on Friday. Daytime conditions were chilly under sunny skies with highs in the low to mid-30s and light, variable winds. Isolated snowflakes were reported across extreme southeast Iowa overnight into Saturday, as a fast-moving disturbance moved through northern Missouri.
Clear skies and warmer-than-average temperatures prevailed, as daytime highs reached into the mid- to upper 40s, with an average high of 45 degrees, 4 degrees warmer than normal. Overnight lows into Sunday dipped into the lower 30s with light winds.
Weekly precipitation totals ranged from 0.22 inch at Rathbun Dam (Appanoose County) to 1.25 inch in Algona (Kossuth County). The statewide weekly average precipitation was 0.59 inch; normal is 0.44 inch.
The week’s high temperature of 65 degrees was reported on Nov. 20 in Clarinda (Page County), 20 degrees above normal. The week’s low temperature of 12 degrees was reported Nov. 23 in Holstein (Ida County) and Sibley (Osceola County), on average 8 degrees below normal. Soil temperatures as of Sunday ranged from the mid-30s north to low 40s south.