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Serving: IA

Iowa Corn Planters Make Up for Lost Time

Over 77% of Iowa's corn acreage is now planted and 25% of soybeans, according to weekly survey.

The weekly weather and crop conditions survey released by Iowa Ag Statistics Service on May 14 shows that 77% of the state's 2007 corn crop has been planted. The warm, dry weather this past week was critical as many farmers were able to get in the field and plant corn. Some have even started planting soybeans. The survey results were gathered as of Sunday May 13.

"Many farmers are planting around the wet spots in their fields," says John Holmes, Iowa State University Extension crop specialist at Clarion, in north central Iowa. "Some farmers will go back and spot-plant those areas later on. But some of those areas in the fields are still so wet that I don't know if those drowned out spots will even get planted this year."

A week of mostly dry weather this past week was a welcome relief to many water-logged farmers, says Holmes. Tractors started rolling this past week at every opportunity as fields dried out. The weekly survey shows that farmers in Southern Iowa struggled the most as fields remain extremely wet in places making it difficult to plant.

Parts of northeast Iowa could use rain

In fact, south central Iowa was only able to plant 8% of their corn crop and 3% of their soybean crop last week. In contrast, northeast Iowa was able to plant 31% of their corn crop and 42% of their soybean crop during the past week as soils dried quickly. Parts of northeast Iowa could use some rain again.

"Corn in northwest Iowa for the most part looks really good," reports Joel DeJong, ISU area crop specialist at LeMars. Stands are good, with good germination and growing conditions so far. That area of the state has had a drier spring and planting has been more timely compared to other areas of Iowa.

The weekly survey conducted by Iowa Ag Statistics shows that for the week ending May 13 in Iowa there were 3.8 days suitable for fieldwork, compared to 3.5 days last year at this time. Topsoil moisture currently rates 1% very short, 4% short, 64% adequate and 31% surplus across the state. Subsoil moisture rates zero percent very short, 1% short, 63% adequate and 36% surplus as of May 13.

Over a third of Iowa corn is emerged

Statewide in Iowa as of May 13, oats planted were 98% complete. On average, oat seeding is completed by this time. Eighty-one percent of oats are emerged compared to last year's 88%. The condition of the oat crop is zero percent very poor, 2% poor, 26% fair, 60% good and 12% excellent. Corn planting, at 77%, remains one week behind last year's progress.

Statewide, 36% of Iowa's 2007 corn acreage is now emerged, compared to last year's 39% and the five-year average of 34%. Warm temperatures were ideal for emergence. Nearly one-quarter of the 2007 soybean crop has been planted.

Pasture and range condition rates 1% very poor, 6% poor, 26% fair, 50% good, and 17% excellent, as of May 13. Livestock condition is generally good.

The weekly Iowa Ag Statistics crop survey report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture's website at  

What about corn acreage in 2007?

This spring's weather has dumped more rain than was needed in many areas of the state, causing flooding and mud.

"In Southwest Iowa, we are generally ahead of the game with planting a little sooner than the rest of the state," says Julius Schaaf, a corn grower from Fremont County and chairman-elect of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. "Unfortunately, I have about 500 acres of corn under water from the overflow out of the West Nishnabotna River. But the better drained areas are beginning to dry, and we should be able to get back to field work in a short time."

USDA surveys earlier this spring had indicated farmers would plant 90.45 million acres to corn in the United States in 2007, up 15% from the corn acreage planted last year. Iowa corn acreage was projected up 10% form 2006. With warm, dry weather on the way, the recent rains are not expected to affect the projection for 90.45 million corn acres planted nationwide, according to Schaaf.

USDA lowers corn yield projection

Roger Zylstra, a corn grower from Jasper County and a director for the Iowa Corn Growers Association, only had a few acres of corn left to plant last week. Seed technologies have improved and corn growers are expected to be fine with the varieties they have on hand, Zylstra adds. "The U.S. needs to grow a big corn crop this year to satisfy ethanol demand, livestock feeding and exports."

USDA on May 11 lowered its yield projection for the 2007 U.S. corn crop--to just under the trendline yield. USDA economists trimmed back their yield outlook because of the later than expected planting date for corn in many areas of the Corn Belt this spring. "We will be watching the weather conditions like we always do this summer. We know in Iowa that the weather changes every day. In late summer, we will be very thankful for the extra soil moisture," says Schaaf.

TAGS: USDA Extension
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