Wallaces Farmer

Statewide corn harvest is 43% complete as of Nov. 3 — still 11 days behind average.

Rod Swoboda

November 5, 2019

6 Min Read
combine in corn field during harvest
ANOTHER HURDLE: With wetter-than-normal corn being harvested, shortages of propane for grain drying are reported.

Despite the first snowfall of the season, Iowa farmers made some progress getting the 2019 corn crop out of the field last week. But they still have a long way to go. USDA’s statewide survey for the week ending Nov. 3 shows 43% of Iowa’s corn is now in the bin, and soybean harvest is 80% complete.

Last week brought the first measureable snowfall of the season, which added even more moisture to already wet soil and continued to prevent corn from drying down in the fields. “Parts of the state made significant progress with corn harvest and are getting close to finishing up on soybeans,” notes Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig.

However, the embattled 2019 crop season now has another hurdle to contend with on its way to the finish line for harvest. With a late-maturing crop and plenty of wet grain coming out of fields, demand for propane for grain drying is significantly higher than usual this fall. Propane supplies are running short, as delivery trucks are waiting to be filled at Iowa’s pipeline terminals. Some farmers have to wait three or four days for propane to be delivered to their empty tanks on the farm. Thus, corn drying is now the hang-up for more and more farmers.

“We’re hearing reports of propane shortages across the state,” Naig says. “I’m working with Gov. [Kim] Reynolds and the Iowa Propane Gas Association to monitor the situation. The emergency proclamation extending driving hours for trucks delivering propane will help alleviate the delivery issues, and supplies will increase as some farmers start wrapping up harvest.”

The complete weekly Iowa Crop Progress and Conditions Report is available on USDA’s website, nass.usda.gov.

Crop report

Iowa farmers continued to deal with challenging field conditions as the first accumulating snowfall of the year fell across parts of the state during the week ending Nov. 3, according to USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service. Statewide there were 4.4 days suitable for fieldwork. Activities included harvesting soybeans and corn for grain, spreading manure, applying anhydrous, baling corn stalks, and using fall tillage.

Topsoil moisture was rated 0% very short, 1% short, 81% adequate and 18% surplus. Subsoil moisture was rated 0% very short, 2% short, 81% adequate and 17% surplus. Iowa’s corn crop is now 43% harvested, eight days behind last year and 11 days behind the five-year average. Producers in north-central Iowa were able to harvest over one-quarter of their expected crop this past week. Moisture content of corn being harvested for grain was at 21%. Corn condition rated 67% good-to-excellent.

Iowa’s soybean crop is now 80% harvested, three days behind last year and one week behind average. Areas in Iowa are still dealing with muddy feedlots, while others reported no livestock issues this past week.

Weekly weather

A southerly dip in the jet stream brought multiple fast-moving winter-type systems through Iowa last week. This is the first time this season that widespread accumulating snow fell across Iowa. Though much of Iowa reported above-average snowfall, below-average precipitation was observed statewide. With the jet stream locked in a southerly configuration, colder-than-average temperatures continued to grip the state. Iowa’s average temperature was 33 degrees, 12.6 degrees below normal.

The summary for the week of Oct. 27 to Nov. 3 is provided by Justin Glisan, state climatologist with the Iowa Dept. of Agriculture. He also provides the daily details.

The cold front traversing the state moved out of eastern Iowa during the evening on Sunday (Oct. 27). Overcast skies and brisk northwesterly wind kept daytime highs in the low to mid-40s across Iowa’s western two-thirds. Prior to the frontal passage, highs in eastern Iowa reached into the upper 50s.

Overnight lows into Monday remained in the 30s, as cloud cover gradually cleared. Partly to mostly sunny skies prevailed across much of north-central Iowa as the afternoon progressed with highs reaching into the upper 30s to lower 40s. During the evening and nighttime hours, the first widespread snow of the season developed across Iowa.

Measurable snow was reported across the southeast two-thirds of the state with highest totals in east-central Iowa. Accumulations ranged from a trace at multiple stations to 4.2 inches in Coralville (Johnson County), with the statewide average of 1.20 inches. 

Tuesday started chilly, with overnight lows in mid to upper 20s. Skies cleared during the day, though cloud cover returned in advance of the next weather event to move through Iowa. A second weather system greeted the state with snow on Wednesday, as a low-pressure center south of Iowa moved east. As with the first system, accumulating snow was confined to southeast Iowa.

Stations from Cedar Rapids (Lynn County) reported totals in the 3 to 4 inches, with Davenport Municipal Airport (Scott County) and Dubuque (Dubuque County) observing 3 and 5.2 inches, respectively. Totals below an inch were reported from Decorah (Winneshiek County) to Creston (Union County). The statewide average snowfall was 1.60 inches. Daytime highs remained in the 30s, averaging 20 degrees below the statewide normal of 55 degrees.

The system moved out of eastern Iowa on Thursday morning, with gradually clearing skies into the evening. Highs reached into upper 30s and low 40s. Winds shifted from a southerly direction overnight into Friday, keeping temperatures in the low 30s. Light rain moved across Iowa during the day, leaving totals generally under 0.10 inch, with Jefferson (Greene County) reporting 0.14 inch.

Warmer temperatures were reported across Iowa on Saturday under partly sunny skies. Highs reached into the mid to upper 40s, though these readings were still unseasonably cool. Partly cloudy conditions continued into Sunday morning, as overnight lows dropped into the upper 20s east and low 30s west.

Temps from 63 to 13 

Weekly precipitation totals ranged from no accumulation at many stations in northwest Iowa to 1.01 inches in Camanche (Clinton County). Statewide weekly average precipitation was 0.21 inch, while normal is 0.55 inch. The average snowfall across Iowa was 2.40 inches.

The week’s high temperature of 63 degrees was reported Oct. 28 at Bellevue (Jackson County) and Keokuk (Lee County), on average 4 degrees above normal. The week’s low temperature of 13 degrees was reported Oct. 31 in Sanborn (O’Brien County) and on Nov. 1 at Dubuque (Dubuque County) and Sibley (Osceola County). The reading was on average 19 degrees below normal. Soil temperatures as Nov. 3 were generally in the low 40s.


About the Author(s)

Rod Swoboda

Rod Swoboda is a former editor of Wallaces Farmer and is now retired.

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