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Serving: IA
close-up of a cornfield Rod Swoboda
MOVING ALONG: The state survey shows 87% of Iowa’s corn is silking and 50% of its soybeans are setting pods as of July 26.

Spotty rains leave some areas of Iowa needing more

Despite dry conditions, the latest survey rates 77% of Iowa corn good-to-excellent.

The weather forecast was promising, but some areas of Iowa ended up with just a sprinkle this past weekend. “All that rain we were supposed to get on Sunday, July 26, we didn’t get any,” says Bill English, who farms in Dubuque County in northeast Iowa. “Some of the corn around here, the leaves are curling, and we are plenty dry — although not as dry as the fields in western Iowa.”

Drought conditions continued to expand, especially across western Iowa last week, according to the latest Iowa crop conditions survey released July 27. “Some parts of the region did receive much needed rainfall,” notes Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “Forecasts show we should expect seasonal temperatures and additional chances of isolated storms through the last week of July.”

Drought meetings in August

“Much of west-central Iowa is still under a moderate to severe drought,” says Mike Witt, Iowa State University Extension agronomist who covers that area of the state. “The drought conditions are causing major concerns for both crop and livestock producers.”

To help address those concerns, ISU Extension will be hosting 10 free drought meetings at various locations. The meetings run Aug. 3-10. For times and locations, visit ISU Extension.

The complete weekly Iowa Crop Progress and Condition report is available on USDA’s site at

Crop report

Another week with primarily spotty rains meant farmers had six days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending July 26, according to USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service. Fieldwork activities included spraying, harvesting hay and hauling grain. Aerial application of fungicides was also reported.
Topsoil moisture is rated 11% very short, 27% short, 59% adequate and 3% surplus. Subsoil moisture is rated 6% very short, 26% short, 65% adequate and 3% surplus. West-central Iowa topsoil and subsoil moisture supplies are the lowest in the state with well over half of the area considered short to very short.

Corn in the silking stage or beyond has now reached 87% statewide, which is 12 days ahead of the previous year and three days ahead of the five-year average. Corn in the dough stage is 23%, 10 days ahead of the previous year and four days ahead of average. Iowa’s corn condition is rated 77% good-to-excellent. Soybeans blooming reached 85%, just over two weeks ahead of last year and six days ahead of average.

Soybeans setting pods reached 50%, just over two weeks ahead of last year and five days ahead of average. Iowa’s soybean condition is rated 76% good-to-excellent.

Oats turning color are at 95%, four days ahead of last year and one day ahead of the average. Oats harvested for grain has reached 56%, a week ahead of last year and two days ahead of the average. Oat condition is rated 73% good-to-excellent.
Alfalfa hay second cutting is 84% harvested, eight days ahead of last year and two days ahead of the average. Hay condition is rated 69% good-to-excellent. Pasture condition is rated 51% good-to-excellent. Some pastures are going dormant due to lack of adequate rain.

Weather summary

“For the week ending July 26, warmer-than-normal conditions were reported in Iowa’s western half, while near to slightly cooler temperatures were observed across parts of eastern Iowa over the reporting period,” says Justin Glisan, state climatologist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture. “The statewide average temperature was 74.9 degrees [F], 1 degree above normal.”

Scattered showers and thunderstorms brought measurable rain across much of the state, though some stations missed out. Overall, drier-than=normal conditions were observed statewide with departures between 0.5 to 1 inch.

Weekly rainfall totals ranged from no accumulation at stations in northeast Iowa to 2.25 inches in New London (Henry County) in southeast Iowa. The statewide average for rainfall last week was 0.37 inch, while the normal is 0.98 inch.

The town of Perry (Dallas County) in central Iowa reported the week’s high temperature of 96 degrees on July 24, which was 11 degrees above normal. The town of Fayette (Fayette County) in northeast Iowa reported the week’s low temperature of 51 degrees on July 23, which was10 degrees below normal.

U.S. corn, bean ratings rise

Looking at the national picture, USDA’s latest survey shows U.S. corn and soybean ratings both have increased to 72% good-to-excellent, up 3 points from a week ago.

For corn, the national rating as of July 26 is up from 69% a week earlier. An estimated 82% of the nation’s corn is now silking, versus a five-year average of 75% for this date. Among the Corn Belt states, Minnesota is furthest along, with 90% silking. Missouri, Nebraska and Illinois are at 89%. Iowa is 87%, while corn silking is at 64% in Ohio and 56% in North Dakota.

For the U.S., 22% of the corn crop has entered dough stage, versus a 17% five-year average for this date.

For soybeans, 76% of the nation’s crop is now blooming, which is ahead of the 72% five-year average. The survey as of July 26 shows 43% of the U.S. soybean crop is setting pods, versus a 36% five-year average. USDA estimates soybeans now have a 72% good-to-excellent rating, versus 69% a week ago.

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