Weather still challenging Iowa farmers

USDA, NASSWet and windy conditions slowed planting for Iowa farmers during the week ending May 17, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were only 2.6 days suitable for fieldwork (2.8 days in west central Iowa). Operators reported the wet weather led to standing water in some fields and the wind halted spraying activity.

Topsoil moisture statewide increased slightly to 4 percent short, 80 percent adequate and 16 percent surplus. Topsoil in west central Iowa rated 4 percent short, 84 percent adequate and 12 percent surplus.

Subsoil moisture levels statewide also increased and now stand at 1 percent very short, 8 percent short, 83 percent adequate and 8 percent surplus. Levels in west central Iowa are rated at 3 percent short, 88 percent adequate and 9 percent surplus.

North central and southwest Iowa reported the highest topsoil levels with 100 and 99 percent rated adequate to surplus, respectively. Southwest Iowa reported the highest subsoil moisture level at 99 percent rated adequate to surplus.

Ninety-two percent of the corn crop has been planted, six days ahead last year, and five days ahead of the 5-year average. Southwest Iowa is still lagging behind with just 75 percent planted, compared to northwest Iowa, where 98 percent of the corn was in the ground. In west central Iowa 92 percent has been planted.

Corn reached 63 percent emerged (62 percent in west central Iowa), just over one week ahead of last year and five days ahead of normal.

Soybean planting reached 51 percent complete, three days ahead of 2014, and two days ahead of the average. Only 17 percent of the expected soybean crop has been planted in southwest Iowa, with south central Iowa the next lowest at 40 percent complete. In west central Iowa 41 percent has been planted.

With nearly all the state’s oat crop planted, oats emerged reached 92 percent, eight days ahead of last year, and five days ahead of normal. Oat condition ratings improved slightly with 81 percent rated good to excellent.

Limited progress has been made on the first cutting of alfalfa hay due to the cool, wet weather. Hay conditions now rate 80 percent good to excellent. Pasture condition also improved to 70 percent good to excellent. Livestock conditions were reported as mostly normal with a majority of cattle being turned onto pasture. Some cattle lots were described as messy or muddy.

Iowa preliminary weather summary by Harry Hillaker, state climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship: The past week began with widespread light to moderate rain from Sunday afternoon, May 10, into Monday morning. Tuesday, May 12, was dry while rain moved back into western Iowa Wednesday night. Rain fell over most of the state on Thursday, Friday and Saturday with the greatest amounts falling over west central and southwest Iowa. Finally, there were a few showers and thunderstorms on Sunday, May 17.

Rain totals for the week ranged from 0.45 inches at the Cedar Rapids airport to 4.45 inches at the Audubon airport. The statewide average precipitation was 1.32 inches while normal for the week is 1.05 inches.

Meanwhile, cooler than normal weather prevailed from Monday through Thursday, with the coolest weather on Monday when highs were only in the mid-40s over northwest Iowa. Much warmer and more humid weather quickly returned for the weekend before a cold front swept across the state on Sunday. Temperature extremes ranged from a Tuesday morning low of 33 degrees at Elkader to afternoon highs of 83 degrees at Davenport and Maquoketa on Saturday, May 16, and at Bellevue and Clinton on Sunday afternoon, May 17.

Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 0.4 degrees above normal. Severe thunderstorms were scattered across portions of northwest and west central Iowa on Sunday, May 10, with greatest damage from high winds, large hail and a tornado in Calhoun County. There were also a few reports of damaging winds in central and south central Iowa early Sunday morning, May 17.


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