Wallaces Farmer

Iowa has 80% of its corn planted, 41% of soybeans

It’s been decades since Iowa farmers have been so far behind in planting.

Rod Swoboda

June 4, 2019

7 Min Read
water soaked field
WET FIELDS: “Planting is late here in Iowa, but it’s even further behind in the eastern Corn Belt,” notes Dean Taylor, farming near Prairie City.

This year’s corn planting pace is one for the record books — record slow. “It’s been a long, long spring with wet weather and delayed planting,” says Craig Heineman, farming near Ogden in central Iowa. “We’re just about finished planting both corn and beans,” he told Wallaces Farmer on June 2. “We will finish up early this week, if the rain allows.”

Farmers in Iowa and across the Corn Belt are running way behind, according to USDA’s latest weekly survey. Iowa farmers had 80% of the state’s expected 2019 corn crop planted as of June 2, compared to a five-year average of 99%. Iowa had 41% of its soybean crop in the ground vs. a five-year average of 89%.

It’s been decades since Iowa has been so far behind in planting corn and soybeans. USDA says for the week ending June 2, corn planting in Iowa is running three weeks behind the five-year average and has the smallest percentage planted since 1982, when 76% of the crop had been planted. The 41% of Iowa’s soybean crop now in the ground is the smallest percentage since 1993. Iowa’s 2019 soybean planting is running 13 days behind the five-year average.

Last week Iowa farmers had only 1.3 days suitable for fieldwork. The number was even less in the southern third of the state.

The U.S. corn planting pace is slowest on record. Nationwide, corn planting is 67% complete, as of June 2, way behind a five-year average of 96% for this date. Illinois farmers have 45% of their corn planted, running behind a five-year average of 98%. Indiana has only 31% planted versus a 94% five-year average. Nebraska farmers have 88% of their corn planted versus a 98% five-year average.

U.S. soybean planting is 39% complete as of June 2; the five-year average is 79%. Illinois has 21% of its soybean crop in the ground, compared with 84% for the five-year average.

“It’s been another challenging week for farmers across Iowa,” says Iowa Secretary of Ag Mike Naig. “With just 1.3 days suitable for fieldwork last week, the historic planting delays continue. Iowa’s corn planting progress is now nearly three weeks behind the five-year average, and soybean planting is 18 days behind last year and the five-year average. The week beginning June 3 is critical for farmers making tough planting decisions. If we can get a stretch of warm, dry days, farmers can make significant gains.”

One of the more difficult decisions some farmers will have to make soon is whether to go ahead and plant corn late and incur a yield hit, or take the prevented planting option offered by crop insurance. Only 62% of the corn crop had been planted in southeast Iowa, 56% in south-central and 75% in northwest as of June 2. Those are the areas of Iowa lagging furthest behind. Southwest and east-central were 76% planted for corn; central was 87%; west-central, 86%; northeast, 84%; and north-central 90%.

The complete weekly Iowa Crop Progress & Conditions Report is available on USDA’s site at nass.usda.gov/ia

Crop report

Iowa farmers continue to battle wet field conditions as another week of heavy rain limited farmers to only 1.3 days suitable for fieldwork statewide for the week ending June 2, says USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service. The lower third of Iowa had only a half day or less, suitable for fieldwork, for the second week in a row.

Topsoil moisture is rated 0% very short, 0% short, 50% adequate and 50% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rate 0% very short, 0% short, 49% adequate and 51% surplus.

Iowa farmers have now planted 80% of the state’s 2019 expected corn crop, nearly three weeks behind the five-year average. This is the smallest amount of corn planted by June 2 since 1982 when 76% of the expected crop had been planted. Some of these expected corn acres may go to soybeans or to prevented planting. Statewide, the survey shows 58% of the corn has now emerged, 12 days behind last year, 13 days behind average.

Looking at Iowa’s soybean crop, 41% of the expected bean acres have been planted, 18 days behind last year and 18 days behind the five-year average. This is the smallest percent of soybeans planted by June 2 since 1993 when just 39% of the expected crop had been planted. The survey shows 17% of Iowa’s 2019 soybean crop has emerged, two weeks behind last year and 13 days behind the five-year average.

Iowa’s 2019 oat crop is 93% emerged, eight days behind last year and 10 days behind average. Only 6% of the crop has headed, eight days behind average. Only 4% of Iowa’s first-cutting of alfalfa hay has been completed, over two weeks behind average. Hay condition is rated 60% good-to-excellent. Pasture condition has decreased slightly to 62% good-to-excellent. Feedlots remain muddy.

Weather summary

For the week ending June 2, Iowa continued experiencing wetter-than-normal conditions. Justin Glisan, state climatologist with the Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship, says a persistent weather pattern locked in over the Midwest brought multiple low-pressure systems through Iowa. Temperatures were near normal across much of the state, with cooler conditions in northwest Iowa and slightly warmer conditions in parts of eastern Iowa.

Last week began with thunderstorms moving through Iowa late Sunday night (May 26) through Memorial Day (May 27). Isolated severe storms moved through west-central Iowa early in the day with straight-line wind damage to trees from Page County to Polk County; 70-mph wind gusts were reported in Menlo (Guthrie County).

In mid-afternoon an isolated severe storm in northeast Iowa produced multiple reports of tornadoes from Charles City (Floyd County) into Howard County. Weak tornadoes causing minor structural damage were also reported across Van Buren, Des Moines and Lee Counties, with a fast-moving severe storm in the evening hours.

Tuesday (May 28) was another active day with additional rounds of thunderstorms moving through Iowa. Severe hail and high wind were reported across southern Iowa; wind damaged multiple structures at the Iowa State University research farm in Lucas County. Two-day rain totals were largest across Iowa’s southern third where multiple stations reported above-average totals between 2 and 4 inches. Over 40 stations reported totals above 2 inches, with Salem (Henry County) getting 4.70 inches. Rain totals across the rest of Iowa were between 0.5 to 1 inch.

A low-pressure system in eastern Nebraska slowly moved through Iowa on Wednesday, spinning up weak land spout tornadoes in nine counties. Structural and tree damage was reported along with one injury in Poweshiek County. Strong storms formed later in the day across eastern Iowa, producing locally heavy downpours.

Parkersburg (Butler County) received 1.35 inches, 1.19 inches above average. The low finally exited on Thursday, producing very isolated and slow-moving storms in western Iowa. Rain ranged from 0.10 inch in Rockwell City (Calhoun County) to 0.53 inch in Creston (Union County).

Friday was the week’s warmest day, especially in north-central Iowa, where highs were 10 to 12 degrees above average. Spotty thundershowers developed during evening hours, though they quickly dissipated. Another line of showers and storms sped through Iowa in the early morning hours on Saturday (June 1). Rain totals were generally light with Atlantic (Cass County) reporting 0.42 inch. The rest of Saturday was relatively quiet statewide, with highs reaching into the low to mid-70s across Iowa’s northern half and into the low 80s across southern Iowa, a few degrees warmer than average.

Overnight lows into Sunday (June 2) were generally in the mid to upper-50s. These readings were cooler-than-average, especially under clear skies.

Weekly rain totals ranged from 0.51 inch in Webster City (Hamilton County) to 5.14 inches in Keosauqua (Van Buren County). Statewide weekly average rainfall was 2.11 inches, while normal is 1.08 inches.

Temperatures averaged 64.8 degrees, 0.10 degrees below normal. The week’s high temperature of 89 degrees was at Hampton (Franklin County), Iowa Falls (Hardin County) and Waterloo (Black Hawk County) on May 31. On average they were 13 degrees above normal. Cresco (Howard County) reported the week’s low temperature of 43 degrees on June 2, 8 degrees below average.

About the Author(s)

Rod Swoboda

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

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