Farm Progress

Much needed rain fell in Iowa last week, but for driest areas the damage is already done.

Rod Swoboda 1, Editor, Wallaces Farmer

August 22, 2017

5 Min Read
CORN YIELD HIT: “Some fields of corn look good while others will be collecting crop insurance checks,” says Joel DeJong, ISU Extension agronomist in northwest Iowa. “I’m amazed at the differences in yield potential this year.”

Most of Iowa received some needed rain this past week. But unfortunately for the 2017 corn crop, it may be too little and too late, especially in parts of south-central and southeast Iowa. They’ve already had significant crop damage due to drought this summer. Hopefully, the recent rains and cool weather are helping boost corn and soybean yields in other parts of the state that have received some moisture throughout the growing season.

That sums up the latest statewide weekly Iowa Crop and Weather Report issued by USDA, based on conditions as of Aug. 20. Topsoil moisture improved to 19% very short, 31% short, 49% adequate and 1% surplus for the week ending Aug. 20 for Iowa. That’s the statewide average. Topsoil moisture in south central and southeast Iowa remained over 90% short to very short. Subsoil moisture for Iowa’s statewide average is now 22% very short, 34% short, 44% adequate and zero percent surplus.

Iowa will see widely varying yields this fall
“In northwest Iowa, there will likely be as wide of a yield range for corn this year that I’ve seen in several years. This year’s yield won’t only vary a lot from field to field, but within fields as well,” says Joel DeJong, ISU Extension field agronomist at Le Mars.

Soybeans are now filling pods and are in the R5 growth stage for the most part. Soybean aphids have been reported in some of the northern counties in the area he covers. “There are more cornfields starting to be harvested for corn silage, mostly those that are on light soils,” says DeJong.

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

Summary of Iowa crop conditions
Much needed rain fell throughout the state of Iowa during the week ending Aug. 20, 2017, according to USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service. Statewide there were 4.8 days suitable for fieldwork. Activities for the week included haying and hauling grain.

Topsoil moisture improved to 19% very short, 31% short, 49% adequate and 1% surplus as a statewide average. Topsoil moisture in south central and southeast Iowa remained over 90% short to very short. Subsoil moisture is rated 22% very short, 34% short, 44% adequate and zero percent surplus.

Iowa’s corn crop rates 61% good-to-excellent
As of Aug. 20, the survey showed 71% of Iowa’s corn crop was in or beyond the dough stage, one week behind last year. And 21% of the corn crop has reached dent stage, one week behind last year and five days behind the five-year average. For Iowa, 61% of the corn crop is rated in good to excellent condition.

For soybeans statewide, 88% of the crop is setting pods, four days behind last year but equal to average. Soybean condition improved slightly last week to 58% good to excellent. Almost all Iowa’s 2017 oat crop for grain or seed has been harvested.

Iowa’s third cutting of alfalfa hay reached 73% complete, eight days ahead of last year and 10 days ahead of average. Pasture condition improved to 19% very poor, 24% poor, 31% fair, 23% good and 3% excellent. Livestock conditions have been ideal with the cooler temperatures. However, available water supplies in ponds and creeks remain an issue for some producers. Also in these driest areas supplemental feeding of hay has been required where pastures have been hurt by drought.

Weather summary for Iowa
Harry Hillaker, state climatologist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, provides the following summary for the week ended Aug. 20.

Seasonally mild temperatures prevailed through most of the week while rainfall was more widespread and frequent than in recent weeks. Rain fell nearly statewide the night of Aug. 13 into the morning of Aug. 14, and also on Aug. 15-16. Aug. 17 was mostly dry, while Aug. 18 in the evening and into the night a few isolated thunderstorms brought rain to small areas from northwest, through central and into southeast Iowa. A few of those night storms were severe, including a strong tornado near Melvin in Osceola County of far northwest Iowa.

Little Sioux 7.21 inches, Farmington a few drops
Aug. 19 was mostly dry while thunderstorms brought rain to about the southwest one-half of the state late that night into the next morning on Aug. 20. The heaviest rains last week fell across far western and northwest Iowa the morning of Aug. 16.

Weekly rain totals were generally below normal across the east one-third of Iowa and above normal over much of the remainder of the state. Little Sioux in Harrison County reported the most rain during the week with 7.21 inches while Farmington in Van Buren County picked up only 0.04 inch. The statewide average rainfall was 1.35 inches while normal for the week is 0.97 inch.

Extremes from 92-degree highs to 49 low
The coolest weather in most areas came on Aug. 13 when highs were mostly in the 70s statewide. Remainder of the week was mostly cooler than normal over the north and slightly above normal over the far south.

Temperature extremes ranged from afternoon highs of 92 degrees at Donnellson on Aug. 15 and a morning low of 49 degrees at Cresco over the weekend. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 2 to 3 degrees below normal across northeast Iowa to about 1 degree above normal over the far south.

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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