Wallaces Farmer

Survey shows, as of May 3, Iowa farmers have 78% of corn planted and 46% of soybeans.

Rod Swoboda

May 5, 2020

5 Min Read
planter in a field / BIG GAIN: Of the top corn-producing states, Iowa is furthest along in planting, with 78% of its crop in

Taking advantage of nice weather last week, Iowa farmers raced ahead with this spring’s planting progress. USDA’s weekly survey released May 4 shows the state had 78% of its expected 2020 corn acreage planted as of May 3, well ahead of the five-year average of 46% for this date. Iowa is also well ahead on soybean planting. With 46% of the state’s soybeans now in the ground, Iowa farmers are beating the five-year average of 9% completed.

“Iowa saw a second straight week of considerable planting progress across the state last week. The planning of input providers and farmers, combined with favorable weather, has the 2020 growing season off to a strong start,” says Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “The great progress in planting is a bright spot during a time with many disruptions for agriculture and the rest of the world due to COVID-19.”

In northwest Iowa, Iowa State University Extension field agronomist Joel DeJong says many farmers in his area have either finished planting corn, or are getting close to finishing planting. “They’re well ahead in planting soybeans too,” he adds.

U.S. corn 51% complete

Nationally, U.S. corn planting is over halfway finished, USDA reports. Corn acreage in the U.S. was 51% planted as of May 3, ahead of the five-year average of 39%. Illinois farmers are 56% done, versus a 54% five-year average. Indiana farmers have completed 33% of their corn planting, versus a 26% five-year average. The survey shows 8% of the nation’s corn has emerged, compared to a five-year average of 10%.

The nation’s soybean crop for 2020 is now 23% complete for planting, compared to an 11% five-year average. Illinois and Indiana have 31% and 22% of their soybean acres planted, respectively, which is well-ahead of their five-year averages.

There were 6.1 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending May 3, according to the weekly Iowa Crop Progress and Conditions Report released by USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service. Warm, dry weather allowed Iowa farmers to advance planting well ahead of normal. Topsoil moisture in Iowa last week rated 3% very short, 16% short, 78% adequate and 3% surplus. Subsoil moisture rated 2% very short, 8% short, 85% adequate and 5% surplus. The complete weekly report is at nass.usda.gov/ia

Not fastest planting week

Iowa farmers planted 39% of the state’s expected corn crop during the week ending May 3. This is the first time since 2010 that at least three-quarters of the Iowa corn crop has been in the ground by May 3. Although great progress was made last week, in 2015 Iowa farmers were able to plant 54% of their corn crop during the same week.

Noteworthy is the fact that this spring 46% of the Iowa soybean crop has been planted, a full month ahead of last year and more than two weeks ahead of the five-year average. This is the highest proportion of the Iowa soybean crop planted by May 3 since records began in 1974. Farmers were able to plant over one-third of the state’s expected 2020 soybean crop during the week ending May 3. Only 6% of Iowa’s expected oat crop remains to be planted, with 54% of the oat crop now emerged. Pasture condition rated 65% good-to-excellent last week. Pastures and hay fields are greening up. Cattle movement to pastures is increasing  this week.

Iowa weather summary

Weekly rain totals ranged from trace amounts at several stations to 1.12 inches at Keokuk Lock and Dam (Lee County), says Justin Glisan, state climatologist at the Iowa Department of Agriculture.

Statewide, the average precipitation last week was 0.15 inch, while normal is 0.93 inch for the seven-day period ending May 3. Little Sioux (Harrison County) had last week’s high temperature of 90 degrees on May 1, which was 22 degrees above average. Iowa City (Johnson County) and the town of Stanley (Buchanan County) reported the week’s low temperature of 33 degrees on April 27, which was 9 degrees below normal. Four-inch soil temperatures for Iowa were in the mid-50s north to low 60s in the southern part of the state as of May 3.

Drier weather favored field work

Angie Rieck-Hinz, ISU field agronomist in north central Iowa, says, “This spring is such a turnaround from the last couple of springs, which were wet. People are still a little bit in shock about how good planting conditions have been over the last two weeks and how much progress we’ve made planting corn and beans.”

Farmers were prepared to move quickly this spring. “If conditions are good, and we plant about 13 million acres of corn in Iowa, we can knock out about 1.1  [million] to 1.2 million acres planted statewide per day,” she says. “Our soil temperatures have stayed pretty steady in the low- to mid-50s, but the big thing that’s helped us is the weather; it dried out so farmers could get into the fields and really go.”

While spring weather has been more cooperative this year, Rieck-Hinz recommends growers who planted early should check their crop. “There were people planting corn around April 1 and around April 8; it was still pretty cool and kind of wet back then,” she says. “I recommend you go out as soon as that corn starts poking through the ground, and do some stand counts and make sure your stand is at the population you want.”


About the Author(s)

Rod Swoboda

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

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