A good week for farming

USDA, NASSDry conditions throughout the week with precipitation not arriving until the weekend allowed Iowa farmers 5.5 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending August 9, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Activities for the week included cutting hay as well as fungicide and insecticide applications. There were scattered reports of weed and insect issues in soybeans and fungus in corn fields. Seed corn detasseling was nearing completion across much of the state.

Topsoil moisture levels statewide rated 9 percent short, 78 percent adequate and 13 percent surplus. Ratings in west central Iowa were 5 percent short, 87 percent adequate and 8 percent surplus.

Subsoil moisture levels statewide rated 8 percent short, 80 percent adequate and 12 percent surplus. In west central Iowa ratings were 4 percent short, 89 percent adequate and 7 percent surplus. Limited precipitation across northern Iowa resulted in falling topsoil and subsoil moisture levels across the area, with northwest Iowa now reporting over one-quarter short to very short on topsoil moisture.

Ninety-seven percent of the corn crop reached the silking stage or beyond, with 51 percent reaching the dough stage or beyond, slightly behind 2014, but four days ahead of the 5-year average. Reports of corn starting to dent were received from across the state. Corn condition rated 83 percent good to excellent.

Soybeans blooming or beyond reached 92 percent, five days behind the previous year. Seventy-three percent (80 percent in west central Iowa) of soybeans were setting pods. Soybean condition rated 79 percent good to excellent. Ninety-one percent of the oat crop for grain or seed has been harvested, four days ahead of last year, but slightly behind the average.

The second cutting of alfalfa hay reached 85 percent, six days behind last year and nine days behind normal. The third cutting of alfalfa hay is 28 percent complete, four days behind average. Hay condition dropped slightly to 68 percent good to excellent, while pasture condition dropped 3 percentage points to 73 percent good to excellent. Livestock experienced normal summer heat stress and mild pressure from insects.

Iowa preliminary weather summary by Harry Hillaker, state climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship: Iowa saw a very wide range in precipitation totals for the past week. Parts of northern Iowa recorded nothing more than sprinkles for the week at such locations as Battle Creek (Ida County), Estherville, Mason City, Charles City, Fayette and Guttenberg. Meanwhile, locally heavy rains fell over far southwest Iowa on Sunday night, Aug. 2, Tuesday, Aug. 4, and Saturday night, Aug. 8. Randolph in northern Fremont County reported 9.21 inches of rain for the week with 6.85 inches of the total coming in a Saturday night deluge. Bedford registered three rain events of 1.73 inches or more for a weekly total of 6.90 inches. This follows 12.38 inches of rain at Bedford during July. A widespread area of three to five inches of rain also fell Saturday night across central Iowa from just south of Fort Dodge to just southwest of Iowa City. Fortunately this later storm area had been dry for the previous 10 days.

Other than the southern one-third of Iowa, most of the state was dry during this past week until Saturday evening. Additionally rains fell from Sunday evening, Aug. 9, into Monday morning, mostly over the west one-half of the state, but fell too late to be reflected in this week’s statistics. Overall the statewide average precipitation was 0.94 inches, or about the same as the weekly normal of 0.96 inches.

Relatively cool and dry air prevailed over most of the state through Thursday morning, Aug. 6. Elkader was the cool spot with a Wednesday morning low of 48 degrees. Warmer and more humid air prevailed late in the week with Sioux Center reporting the highest temperature at 91 degrees on Friday.

Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged about two degrees below normal over eastern Iowa to about a degree above normal over the west with a statewide average of 0.7 degrees below normal. The Saturday night storms also brought some large hail and high winds with the hail reports concentrated in the vicinity of Sioux City with most of the wind reports occurring from the Iowa Great Lakes area southeastward to near Ames.

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