Weather helping crops but slowing hay harvest

USDA, NASSAlthough heavy rains were reported in some areas of the state, drier than normal conditions prevailed in other areas. Overall, Iowa farmers had 4.6 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending Aug. 2, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Activities for the week included cutting hay and fungicide and insecticide applications. Humidity and heat aided crop development, but precipitation made harvesting hay and oats difficult in some areas. There were reports of weed and insect problems in soybeans and fungus in corn fields.

Topsoil moisture levels statewide rated 6 percent short, 80 percent adequate and 14 percent surplus. Topsoil moisture levels in west central Iowa rated 5 percent short, 86 percent adequate and 9 percent surplus.

Subsoil moisture levels statewide rated 6 percent short, 81 percent adequate and 13 percent surplus. Levels in west central Iowa were 3 percent short, 88 percent adequate and 9 percent surplus. South central Iowa saw the largest increase in topsoil moisture levels, with 60 percent surplus, up from 51 percent the prior week.

Ninety-three percent of the corn crop reached the silking stage or beyond (96 percent in west central Iowa), with 30 percent reaching the dough stage or beyond. Corn condition rated 83 percent good to excellent.

Soybeans blooming or beyond reached 87 percent (95 percent in west central Iowa), two days behind 2014. Fifty-seven percent of soybeans were setting pods. Soybean condition rated 79 percent good to excellent this week, up 3 percentage points from the previous week.

The second cutting of alfalfa hay reached 79 percent, three days behind last year, and one week behind the average, due to continued wet conditions. However, in west central Iowa, the second cutting is 96 percent complete. The third cutting of alfalfa hay is 13 percent complete, eight days behind average. Hay condition was rated at 69 percent good to excellent, while pasture condition rated 76 percent good to excellent. Livestock experienced normal summer heat stress.

 Iowa preliminary weather summary by Harry Hillaker, state climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship: The past reporting week began with very warm and humid weather prevailing through Tuesday, July 28. Actual temperatures peaked at 95 degrees at Lamoni while the heat index reached 109 degrees at Burlington on Tuesday. A wide band of thunderstorms brought rain from northwest, through central, into south central Iowa on Monday. Another area of thunderstorms moved through all but far northwest Iowa between early Tuesday morning and early Wednesday morning. Torrential rains fell with this second round of storms on Tuesday night across parts of south central Iowa.

Cooler and mostly dry weather prevailed on Wednesday and Thursday with temperatures falling as low as 52 degrees at Sheldon on Thursday morning, July 30. Warmer and more humid weather returned for the weekend with scattered thunderstorms over the southern one-half of the state. Sunday, Aug. 2, was the warmest day of the weekend with Donnellson reaching 94 degrees.

Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 1.5 degrees above normal. Weekly rain totals varied from only 0.09 inches at Oakland and 0.10 inches at Bellevue to 7.46 inches near Spring Hill in Warren County. The statewide average precipitation was 1.63 inches while normal for the week is 0.94 inches.

The statewide average precipitation has been above normal for seven of the past eight weeks. However, precipitation amounts have been highly variable over the state during this eight-week period with very heavy rains over much of the southern one-third of Iowa while portions of the northern one-third have been drier than usual.


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