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Serving: IA
Spring Fieldwork Underway In Iowa

Spring Fieldwork Underway In Iowa

Anhydrous ammonia is being applied in preparation for corn planting, and field tile is being installed in Iowa fields. Weather was rather exciting Saturday night April 9, as numerous tornadoes caused damage in western and northwest Iowa.

Farmers are busy applying fertilizer and installing field tile, in preparation for spring planting 2011. That was the primary fieldwork done last week as farmers in Iowa continue to wait for soils to dry and temperatures to rise. Unfortunately, strong storms caused extensive damage in northwest and western Iowa on Saturday night April 9. Tornadoes destroyed farmsteads in several areas.

That summary comes from the weekly Crops & Weather report, released April 11 by the Iowa office of USDA's National Ag Statistics Service in Des Moines. The weekly Iowa Crops & Weather report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship site at or on USDA's site at

The report is based on information gathered by crop and weather reporters from around the state, as they send their information to USDA's National Ag Statistics Service office in Des Moines. Statisticians there analyze the survey information and the report is released to the public to help farmers, agribusiness people and others in tracking weather and crop progress. The report is released each week from April through October.

A few corn fields have already been planted, scattered across Iowa

Weather conditions were a little more exciting than most people would like in western and northwest Iowa Saturday night with numerous tornadoes causing damage. Hail was also reported in those areas of the state. The week's most common field activities were application of anhydrous ammonia and installing drainage tile.

There were 3.6 days suitable for fieldwork this past week. Topsoil moisture levels rated 1% very short, 5% short, 82% adequate and 12% surplus. Subsoil moisture rated zero percent very short, 4% short, 84% adequate and 12% surplus.

Scattered corn fields have been planted in Iowa although many farmers say they won't get serious about corn planting until the end of this week as additional time is needed to dry out and warm the soils. Oat acreage planted was 38% complete as of the week ending April 10, 2011, which is behind last year's 51% but ahead of the 5-year average of 23%. Two percent of the oat acreage has emerged, just 1 percentage point behind last year but 1 percentage point ahead of normal.

Pasture and range condition rated 3% very poor, 13% poor, 43% fair, 36% good, and 5% excellent as of April 10. In general, there has been very little stress on livestock with good conditions for newborns, in fact, higher than normal births of twin calves were reported in more than one locale. Unfortunately, the tornadoes in northwest Iowa resulted in some livestock losses.

Iowa weather summary for the week ending April 10, 2011

Hillaker, state climatologist for the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship in Des Moines, compiles the weather summary each week for the Iowa Crops and Weather report. Here's his summary for last week:

Iowa experienced another week of very changeable weather, as of April 10, 2011. The past reporting week began with sprinkles and/or snow flurries over the north one-third of Iowa on Monday (4th) with daytime highs in the upper 40s north to lower 50s south. Temperatures dipped below freezing statewide on Tuesday (5th) morning but warmed to the mid 50s northeast to low 70s west by afternoon. Wednesday (6th) saw highs mostly in the 60s with some light rain early in the morning over the far north. Thursday (7th) and Friday (8th) saw widespread cloudiness over the south where highs were only in the low to mid 50's while sunshine pushed highs to the low to mid 60s over the north.

Rain was widespread over the southeast one-half of Iowa on Thursday into Thursday night with a few areas recording more than an inch. Very windy conditions dominated the weekend. A strong air flow from the south pushed highs into the 80's over southwest Iowa on Saturday and over the southeast two-thirds of the state on Sunday.

Saturday night storms produced at least 10 tornadoes in Iowa

Severe thunderstorms developed across northwest Iowa on Saturday evening producing at least ten tornadoes from northeastern Monona County to southern Kossuth County. The Saturday evening storm system brought rain to about the northwest one-third of Iowa with a few small areas recording more than an inch. Finally, a few thunderstorms developed over the far northeast and southeast corners of Iowa on Sunday.

Temperature extremes varied from a Tuesday (5th) morning low of 19 degrees at Atlantic to a Sunday (10th) afternoon high of 90 degrees at Des Moines. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 6.5 degrees above normal. Precipitation totals varied from only a trace at Hampton and Fayette (which were just north of Thursday's rain area and just south of Saturday's thunderstorms) to 3.16 inches reported near Algona. The statewide average precipitation was 0.55 inches while normal for the week is 0.73 inches. Soil temperatures as of Sunday were averaging in the low 50's northwest to upper 50's southwest.

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