Many farms and agribusinesses experienced damage to crops, grain bins and buildings as severe storms tracked across Iowa yesterday morning. Storm damage was reported across west-central, central and eastern Iowa. Drought-parched areas of west-central Iowa, including Guthrie County, were among the first where severe thunderstorm warnings were issued around 9:30 a.m. Aug. 10.
Wind gusts of 100 mph were recorded in Marshall County at LeGrand as the storm moved east into Illinois. Damage assessments will become more detailed over the next few days. By Monday afternoon, social media was filled with photos and videos of smashed bins and scattered debris from the storm. In central Iowa alone, multiple grain bins were knocked out at elevators and on farms in a stretch of about 50 miles from Minburn to Collins.
“My thoughts are with everyone who was affected by these storms, as they begin clean up," said Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.
Straight-line winds, heavy rain
Iowa State University Extension agronomist Mark Licht, who lives north of Ames, had a machine shed destroyed. His 6,000-pound travel trailer camper blew into a vehicle inside the shed that collapsed. High winds flattened corn and soybean fields around his home. He’s unsure if the corn plants will recover, as some were pulled out by their roots. He says the soybeans look like they may recover, as they start standing back up.
Farmers in the dry parts of west-central and central Iowa tweeted messages such as “We needed rain but not like this.” Many powerlines were downed in the storm’s path. More than 250,000 Mid-American Energy customers, including 130,000 in the Des Moines metro area, lost power.
Meanwhile, later in the afternoon on Aug. 10, USDA issued its weekly statewide survey of Iowa crops and conditions. The survey is based on reports for the week of Aug. 3-9 and doesn’t include Monday’s windstorm damage. That will be analyzed in USDA’s Aug. 17 weekly report.
Drought area expanded
USDA’s report for the seven days prior to Aug. 10 shows that although some parts of Iowa received beneficial rain last week, drought conditions continued to expand. The area classified as extreme drought in west-central Iowa increased in size. Cooler temperatures helped relieve some drought-related stresses.
“Chances of thunderstorms and warm temperatures are in the forecast for the next few days,” said Dennis Todey on Aug. 10. He’s the climatologist with USDA’s Midwest Climate Hub at Ames.
The complete weekly Iowa Crop Progress and Condition report is available on USDA’s site at nass.usda.gov/ia.
Most of Iowa saw little to no rain as farmers had 6.4 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending Aug. 9, according to USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service. Fieldwork activities continue to be spraying, harvesting hay and hauling grain.
Topsoil moisture for the statewide average rated 22% very short, 39% short, 38% adequate and 1% surplus. For the first time since the week ending Sept. 17, 2017, Iowa’s topsoil moisture rated over half of the state being short to very short. Subsoil moisture rated 16% very short, 37% short, 46% adequate and 1% surplus. This is the first time since the week ending Oct. 1, 2017, that Iowa’s subsoil moisture condition rated over half short to very short.
Iowa’s corn crop as of Aug. 9 was 66% in dough stage or beyond, 12 days ahead of the previous year and five days ahead of the five-year average. Corn in dent stage reached 9%. That’s over a week ahead of the previous year, but just one day ahead of average. Corn condition fell to 69% good-to-excellent last week.
Soybeans in Iowa are 94% blooming or beyond, four days ahead of average. Soybeans setting pods are two weeks ahead of last year and a week ahead of average at 83%. Soybean condition as of Aug. 9 fell to 70% good-to-excellent. Oats harvested for grain was 94% complete, six days ahead of last year and four days ahead of the average.
Alfalfa hay second cutting is 94% complete, five days ahead of last year but equal to the five-year average. The third cutting is 37% complete, 10 days ahead of the previous year but equal to average. Hay condition continued to decline and finished the week at 60% good-to-excellent. Pasture condition as of Aug. 9 fell to just 37% good-to-excellent.
“Cooler conditions greeted Iowa through the first full week of August with negative temperature departures of up to 8 degrees across the southern part of the state,” says Justin Glisan, state climatologist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture. “Iowa’s average temperature was 69.4 degrees [F], 2.7 degrees below normal. Dryness persisted statewide, although west-central Iowa, which has been experiencing extreme drought, did receive some much-needed rainfall. Portions of northwest Iowa had rainfall deficits slightly over an inch.”
Iowa’s weekly rainfall totals ranged from no accumulation at several stations to 1.6 inches in Madrid (Boone County). Statewide weekly average precipitation last week was 0.23 inch, while the normal is 0.98 inch. Waterloo Airport (Black Hawk County) reported the week’s high temperature of 93 degrees on Aug. 8, which is 10 degrees above normal. Mason City Airport (Cerro Gordo County) reported the week’s low temperature of 43 degrees on Aug. 4, which is 17 degrees below normal.
U.S. crops continue to progress
As of Aug. 9, USDA’s weekly survey shows the nation’s corn and soybean growth stages are mostly ahead of average for this date. However, the corn and soybean crops diverged last week for their good-to-excellent ratings.
USDA now rates 71% of the U.S. corn crop as good-to-excellent, versus 72% a week ago. And 97% of the nation’s corn is silking compared to a 95% five-year average for this date. They say 11% of the nation’s corn has dented, versus a 12% five-year average, and 59% of the corn has entered dough stage, versus a 52% five-year average.
For soybeans, 92% of the nation’s crop is in the blooming stage, which is ahead of the 89% five-year average. And 75% of the U.S. crop is setting pods, versus a 68% five-year average. The soybean good-to-excellent rating is now 74%, versus 73% a week ago.