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Rain continues to slow Iowa corn plantingRain continues to slow Iowa corn planting

Farmers scrambled to plant at the end of last week, with three days of good field conditions.

Rod Swoboda 1

April 25, 2017

4 Min Read
WATCH OUT: The weather forecast for this week — wet and cold across Iowa — could lead to imbibitional chilling of corn that’s been planted, which can hurt yield potential. Imbibition is the process by which seeds absorb water to initiate germination.

Iowa now has 8% of its 2017 corn crop planted and 69% of the oats statewide, both of which are slightly behind the five-year average. That’s according to the latest Iowa Crop Progress and Weather Report, based on the weekly statewide survey as of April 23.

Fields started to dry as last week progressed and more widespread corn planting began to get underway. A run of dry weather would be very welcome at this point as farmers are anxious to get in the fields, but it looks like rain could return later this week.

“The weather forecast indicates colder, wet weather, and soil temperatures may drop over the next couple of days, particularly Wednesday and Thursday,” says Mark Licht, Iowa State University Extension agronomist. “This is a concern because of the impact imbibitional chilling could have on corn yield potential. Corn seeds imbibe water to begin germination. The critical time period is 24 to 36 hours after planting.”

“Be cautious about planting corn ahead of the cooler, wetter forecast,” he advises. “You may be wise to wait until soil temperatures are warmer.”

The complete weekly crop and weather report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s site iowaagriculture.gov or on USDA’s site nass.usda.gov/ia. Following is the report’s preliminary summary.

Summary of crop report
Rain slowed planting progress early in the week that ended April 23. But drier and warmer weather over the weekend and on Monday April 24 allowed a number of farmers in Iowa to get rolling on planting corn, according to USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service. Statewide there were 2.9 days suitable for fieldwork. Other fieldwork activities included fertilizer and anhydrous applications, tillage and applying herbicide to burn down cover crops.

Topsoil moisture is rated zero percent very short, 1% short, 79% adequate and 20% surplus. Subsoil moisture is 1% very short, 3% short, 77% adequate and 19% surplus.

Iowa’s oat crop 69% planted
As of April 23 in Iowa, 8% of the corn acreage has been planted, nine days behind last year and three days behind the five-year average. And 69% of the state’s oat crop is now in the ground, one week behind last year, but just one day behind average. The survey shows oats emerged has reached 26%. South-central Iowa is lagging the most; it is the only area with less than half of its oat crop planted.

Pasture condition statewide has improved to 74% good to excellent, with pastures described as green and growing. Livestock conditions remain good and feedlots are improving.

Weather summary for Iowa
Harry Hillaker, state climatologist for IDALS, reports the past week was Iowa’s driest week in five weeks. Rain was confined to only April 18-19.

The heaviest rains (averaging between 1 and 1.5 inches) fell in a band from west-central into north-central and northeast Iowa. Meanwhile, less than a tenth of an inch of rain fell over east central Iowa. Weekly rain totals varied from none or just sprinkles at locations such as Newton, Toledo, Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Iowa City to 1.97 inches north of Woodbine in Harrison County. The statewide average precipitation was 0.65 inch, while normal for the week is 0.88 inch. Thunderstorms the evening of April 19 with the passage of a strong cold front brought scattered reports of severe weather, mostly high winds, in seven counties from west-central into northeast Iowa.

Temperatures 3.5 degrees above normal
Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 3.5 degrees above normal for Iowa last week. Soil temperatures as of April 23 were averaging near 50 degrees over extreme northwest Iowa to the mid to upper 50s elsewhere.

Temperatures in Iowa were well above normal into April, 19 with highs in the mid-60s to mid-70s on April 17-18. April 19 was the warmest day across southern Iowa last week, where high temperatures reached into the low 80s; however, much colder air moved into northwest Iowa, where temperatures never made it out of the 40s.

April 21 was the coldest day in most areas with morning lows in the 30s and afternoon highs mostly in the 50s. Cool nights and warm days prevailed over the weekend with highs mostly in the 60s on April 22 and 70s on April 23. Light freezes were scattered across Iowa on the mornings from April 21 to 23, with lowest temperatures of 29 degrees recorded at Cresco on April 22 and Grinnell on April 23. Lamoni recorded the highest temperature of the week with 84 degrees on April 19.

About the Author(s)

Rod Swoboda 1

Editor, Wallaces Farmer

Rod, who has been a member of the editorial staff of Wallaces Farmer magazine since 1976, was appointed editor of the magazine in April 2003. He is widely recognized around the state, especially for his articles on crop production and soil conservation topics, and has won several writing awards, in addition to honors from farm, commodity and conservation organizations.

"As only the tenth person to hold the position of Wallaces Farmer editor in the past 100 years, I take seriously my responsibility to provide readers with timely articles useful to them in their farming operations," Rod says.

Raised on a farm that is still owned and operated by his family, Rod enjoys writing and interviewing farmers and others involved in agriculture, as well as planning and editing the magazine. You can also find Rod at other Farm Progress Company activities where he has responsibilities associated with the magazine, including hosting the Farm Progress Show, Farm Progress Hay Expo and the Iowa Master Farmer program.

A University of Illinois grad with a Bachelors of Science degree in agriculture (ag journalism major), Rod joined Wallaces Farmer after working several years in Washington D.C. as a writer for Farm Business Incorporated.

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