Farm Progress

Weekly estimate shows 92% of Iowa corn and 98% of soybeans are now harvested.

Rod Swoboda 1, Editor, Wallaces Farmer

November 21, 2017

4 Min Read
YIELDS ARE BETTER, PRICES TERRIBLE: “Our corn yields turned out better than expected,” says Nick Butler, Hamilton County, Iowa. “Only down about 10% from our five-year average. But with terrible prices for corn and beans, we may only break even this year.”

USDA’s latest weekly statewide survey shows Iowa’s 2017 corn harvest is 92% complete as of Nov. 19, about 4% behind the five-year average. Soybean harvest is 98% finished, 1% behind normal for this date.

Farming in Lucas County in south-central Iowa, Curt Snyder finished harvesting his last 80 acres of corn on Nov. 17. That field averaged 82 bushels per acre, with a grain moisture content of 17.5%. “My neighbor only averaged 75 bushels per acre this year on corn for his entire 250 acre farm,” says Snyder. “We were hit pretty hard by summer drought in this part of the state. Another neighbor harvested yields as high as 120 bushels per acre on a field of good soil that was fortunate to be under a lone rain cloud at the right time.”

Nation’s corn harvest set to wrap up
The U.S. 2017 corn harvest is also set to wrap up, running 5% behind normal. As of Nov. 19, USDA pegged the nation’s corn harvest at 90% complete, compared with a 95% five-year average. The U.S. soybean harvest, meanwhile, is 96% finished, slightly behind a five-year average of 97%.

“Harvest progress continued across much of Iowa last week with some farmers finishing combining and completing other fall fieldwork, including construction of conservation practices,” notes Mike Naig, Iowa deputy secretary of agriculture. “There is still harvest work to be done across the state, especially in northeast, southwest and south-central Iowa where 15% of this year’s corn is still in the field.”

The complete weekly crop and weather report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship website or on USDA’s site The report summary follows.

Summary of Iowa crop conditions
Minimal precipitation allowed Iowa farmers to make progress toward completing harvest with 5.5 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending Nov. 19, according to USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service. Activities for the week included harvesting, baling cornstalks, tiling, hauling and spreading manure, applying fertilizers, and planting cover crops.

Topsoil moisture levels for a statewide average rated 3% very short, 9% short, 84% adequate and 4% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 6% very short, 16% short, 76% adequate and 2% surplus.

Iowa’s 2017 corn crop 92% harvested

The survey shows 92% of Iowa’s 2017 corn crop has been harvested, eight days behind last year and 8 days behind the five-year average. Moisture content of corn being harvested for grain averaged 17% this past week. Only northeast, southwest and south-central Iowa have more than 10% of their corn crop remaining to be harvested.

There were reports of limited stress on livestock; however, fluctuations in temperatures caused lung issues in some calves. Cattle continue to graze in harvested fields with limited hay being fed.

Weather summary for Iowa
Harry Hillaker, state climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, provides the following summary for the week ended Nov. 12.

There were two episodes of light rain during the week, with both events bringing the greatest rain amounts over the east and the least over the far northwest. Light rain fell over about the southeast three-fourths of the state on Nov. 14 during the night and into the morning of Nov. 15. Keosauqua in southeast Iowa reported the most rain with 0.27 inch. Rain fell nearly statewide between the morning of Nov. 17 and the morning of Nov. 18. A maximum of 0.83 inch of rain was reported at Keokuk in Iowa’s southeast corner.

Total rainfall last week half of normal
Weekly rain totals varied from only sprinkles over the far northwest to 0.92 inch at Keokuk. The statewide average precipitation total was 0.24 inch or about half of the weekly normal amount of 0.49 inch.

Temperatures fluctuated greatly during the week but averaged from about 3 degrees below normal over the far east to 3 above normal over the far west — with a statewide average of 0.6 degree below normal. Daytime high temperatures climbed to 56 degrees at Red Oak and Shenandoah on Nov. 14, to 57 degrees at Keokuk on Nov. 15 and 61 degrees at Sidney on Nov. 17. Meanwhile morning lows dipped as low as 12 degrees at Sheldon on Nov. 16, and 14 degrees at Estherville, Mason City and Spencer on Nov. 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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