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Serving: IA
anhydrous tanks on farm field
APPLYING N: In central Iowa on April 15, farmers were applying nitrogen for the yet-to-be-planted 2019 corn crop.

Nitrogen application underway in Iowa

With warmer soil, corn planting is expected to finally get started this week.

Iowa farmers were waiting for warmer weather and drier conditions as snow, ice and rain in areas of the state last week continued to delay the start of corn planting.

USDA’s weekly statewide survey results for the 7-day period ending April 14 showed some oats have been planted, but little or no corn is in the ground. Anhydrous applicators are getting nitrogen applied in some areas. No corn has been planted yet in Iowa.

Northwest and north-central Iowa are the wettest areas in terms of surplus moisture in both topsoil and subsoil. "As I traveled the state last week, I saw lots of farmers getting into the field with fertilizer application, and the co-ops are reporting their spring activities are ramping up quickly,” says Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “With warmer temperatures on the way, we expect farmers to start planting this week.”

The weekly complete weekly Iowa Crop Progress and Weather Report is at the Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship’s website, iowaagriculture.gov, and on USDA’s site at nass.usda.gov/ia.  

Nationally, farmers are also running behind in getting this year’s corn planted. In the weekly USDA Crop Progress Report released April 15, U.S. corn planting was pegged at 3% complete, running behind the 5% average for the past five years. Iowa has a five-year average of 2%. Like Iowa, Illinois has yet to record any corn planting in its weekly crop report this spring. Illinois has a five-year average of 4% corn planted by April 15.

Crop report

Iowa farmers were waiting for warmer weather and drier conditions as snow, ice and rain throughout Iowa prevented much fieldwork through April 14, according to USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service. Statewide there were 1.9 days suitable for fieldwork. Southwest Iowa had the most days suitable for fieldwork at 4.1 days. Fieldwork activities remained mostly limited to applying anhydrous and spreading manure with little planting done.

Topsoil moisture levels as a statewide average in Iowa last week rated 0% very short and short, 55% adequate, and 45% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 0% very short and short, 52% adequate, and 48% surplus.

Sixteen percent of Iowa’s expected oat crop has been planted, four days ahead of last year but a week behind the five-year average. While one-quarter of the expected oats have been planted in northeast and west-central Iowa, north-central Iowa farmers have not yet begun planting oats.

Pastures continued to green up slowly last week with very little livestock placed on pasture ground. Overall, livestock and feedlot conditions have improved. However, in the northwest crop district, there were reports that recent weather conditions stressed livestock and caused respiratory issues.

Weather summary

According to Justin Glisan, IDALS climatologist, Iowa’s northeast half was wetter than normal,  while the southwest half was unseasonably dry for the week ending April 14. Temperatures were a few degrees below average in northern Iowa, with near to slightly above-normal temps moving south.

The week started off warm with highs on Monday, May 8, reaching into the mid-to-upper 70s across much of Iowa; lower 80s were reported in southwest Iowa. On Tuesday, rain showers formed across a northwest to southeast swath of Iowa. Over 40 stations reported totals between 0.5 to 1 inch; Marshalltown in Marshall County observed 1.04 inches.

Wednesday began a stretch of active weather statewide. Showers and a few thunderstorms gradually moved through northeast Iowa and out of the state late afternoon. As the day progressed, a strong Colorado low pressure moved toward Iowa, bringing windy conditions to the region. Isolated severe storms raced out of southwest Iowa overnight into Thursday with a few reports of hail and high winds.

Much of Iowa’s northern three-quarters received measurable rainfall; two-day totals were highest in northwest Iowa, with many stations reporting between 1 and 1.5 inches. Cooler and continued windy conditions were reported on Friday as cold air moved into Iowa behind the exiting low.

Daytime highs were 15 to 20 degrees below average, generally in the upper 30s into the mid-40s. A relatively quiet pattern set up over the weekend. Highs on Saturday varied from the 40s in the north to mid-50s across the state’s southern third.

Overnight lows into Sunday were in the mid-to-upper 20s. Red Oak in Montgomery County and Shenandoah in Fremont County observed the week’s high of 81 degrees on the April 8.

Little Sioux in Harrison County reported a low of 18 degrees on April 14. Dubuque Lock and Dam in Dubuque County reported the highest rainfall total at 1.85 inches. Four-inch soil temperatures were in the low to mid-40s north to south as of Sunday.

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