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Iowa Crop Conditions Dip After Hot, Dry Week

Iowa Crop Conditions Dip After Hot, Dry Week

Corn and soybean development in Iowa are running behind last year's progress, but overall Iowa is in better shape than other states. Slip in crop conditions shown in latest weekly survey is result of Iowa's hot July.

The break in the heat and rain toward the end of last week in Iowa was a very welcome change and good news for both crop and livestock farmers. The weather has also allowed the 2011 hay harvest to continue and second cutting of alfalfa is now ahead of the five-year average. Hopefully the more seasonable weather forecast for this week will benefit crops stressed by the heat.

That's the summary of the latest statewide crop conditions report, issued August 8, 2011 by the Iowa Office of USDA's National Ag Statistics Service in Des Moines. It's based on statewide survey results gathered as of August 7. The complete weekly report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship's website at or on USDA's site at Here are the highlights:

Iowa Crop Conditions as of Aug. 7, 2011

                                   This Week                Last Week

                   Fair       Good      Excellent        Excellent

Corn           20%        51%          22%               25%

Soybeans   19%        52%          23%               24%

The average temperature for Iowa for the week ending August 7 was 78.4 degrees F, which is 4.8 degrees above normal. Average rainfall was .50 inches, 0.44 inches below normal for the week.

Rainfall becomes a concern: While temperatures in Iowa returned to more seasonable levels after extremely hot weather during much of July and the first couple days of August, rainfall remains short in the state. About 38% of the state's topsoil is rated short or worse, as of August 7. Last week little more than half of the normal nine-tenths of an inch fell on the state. The corn dough stage is behind last year and the 5-year average. The weekly survey showed on August 7 that 69% of Iowa's 2011 soybeans had set pods compared with 79% last year.

The dip in the state's crop condition ratings compared to last week is the result of Iowa's hot July. While the extreme heat in first half of last week has abated, Iowa continues to be dry, notes Harry Hillaker, state climatologist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture. The July heat wave gave rise to fears that the crop would not pollinate properly. Farmers in central and southern Iowa are reporting lower kernel counts and smaller ears populations.

The latest weekly USDA crop and weather conditions survey shows that the percentage of Iowa's corn crop rated "good to excellent" has dipped slightly from 75% the previous week to 73% for the week ending Sunday August 7. Iowa's soybean ratings were down similarly, from 76% to 75%. Both the corn and soybean crop in Iowa is lagging behind last year in development.

Iowa's "good to excellent" ratings for corn are still ahead of several other important corn growing states. Illinois reported 50% good to excellent as of August 7; Indiana, 41%; Missouri, 42% and Ohio 50%. Meanwhile Nebraska and Wisconsin reported 79% good to excellent and Minnesota reported 74%.

Return to more seasonable weather this week, but more rain needed

Even with a return to seasonable weather during the last part of last week and the first part of this week, many farmers in Iowa would like to see more rain. High winds accompanying storms on Saturday August 6 downed trees and damaged grain bins in parts of central and south central Iowa. Soybean aphid populations have warranted spraying in many areas of Iowa. Goss' wilt disease has been reported in some Iowa corn fields in central to north central Iowa.

There were 6.2 days suitable for fieldwork statewide during the past week, according to the weekly crop conditions survey. Only west central, southwest and south central Iowa had less than 6 days suitable. Topsoil moisture levels rated 10% very short, 28% short, 60% adequate and 2% surplus. Subsoil moisture rated 4% very short, 23% short, 70% adequate and 3% surplus.

Two-third's of Iowa corn crop has reached milk stage as of August 7

Nearly all of the 2011 Iowa corn crop is tasseling and silking. As of August 7, 67% percent of the corn crop has reached the milk stage, behind last year's 77% but ahead of the normal 61%. Also as of August 7, 19% of the state's corn crop has reached dough stage, behind last year's 34% and the average 23%. Corn in the dent stage is not yet widespread, but even in a normal year only 3% of the crop would be in dent stage as of August 7.

Corn condition compared to the previous week declined slightly to 2% very poor, 5% poor, 20% fair, 51% good and 22% excellent.

Pod set is at 69% for Iowa soybean crop, behind usual 76% for August 7

Ninety-five percent of the Iowa soybean crop is blooming, between the previous year's 96% and the five-year average of 94%. Pods are being set on 69% of the soybean crop compared with 79% last year at this time and the average 76%.

Soybean condition as of August 7 is nearly unchanged from previous week's report. As of August 7 Iowa's soybean crop is rated 1% very poor, 5% poor, 19% fair, 52% good and 23% excellent. Ninety-one percent of the oat crop has been harvested, behind last year's 92%  but ahead of the normal 85%.

Second cutting alfalfa hay harvest for 2011, at 93% complete, is ahead of last year's 87% and the normal 90% for this time of the year. Third cutting alfalfa hay harvest has advanced to 21% complete, behind both last year and normal. The condition of the 2011 Iowa hay crop is reported at 3% very poor, 11% poor, 33% fair, 43% good and 10% excellent.

Pasture and range condition rated 4% very poor, 14% poor, 33% fair, 42% good, and 7% excellent. Livestock producers welcomed the return to more seasonable weather but it may take time for livestock to fully recover from the heat stress.


IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—for week ending Aug. 7, 2011

By Harry Hillaker, state climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship

The past reporting week began with the hottest weather of the season for much of Iowa on Monday (Aug. 1) and Tuesday (Aug. 2). Actual temperatures climbed above 100 degrees over parts of south central and southeast Iowa. Fairfield reported the highest official temperature with a Tuesday afternoon high of 106 degrees. This was the highest temperature recorded anywhere in Iowa since July 19, 2006. The heat was again accompanied by high humidity with official heat index values peaking at 117 degrees at Iowa City on Tuesday.

Temperatures and humidity decreased for the rest of the week but remained above normal with a few brief exceptions in some areas. Cresco saw temperatures fall to 55 degrees on Thursday (Aug. 4) morning and all of Iowa finally saw overnight lows less than 70 degrees by Sunday (Aug. 7) morning. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 4.8 degrees above normal.

Meanwhile, most of the state was dry until Thursday when showers and thunderstorms dampened much of central and southwest Iowa. Rain also fell over much of the southwest three-fourths of Iowa on Friday (Aug. 5) and the southeast three-fourths of the state late Saturday (Aug. 6) into early Sunday morning. Rain totals for the week varied from none at Bellevue, Cascade, Northwood, Osage and Swea City to 4.52 inches near Leon. The statewide average precipitation was 0.50 inch or a little more than one-half of the weekly normal of 0.94 inch.

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