Rain twice normal, corn planting already behind

Rain continued to be an issue for Iowa farmers with just 3.0 days suitable for fieldwork statewide during the week ending April 16, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Corn planting has been limited as producers have been patiently waiting for warmer and drier soil conditions. Other field activities included CRP burning; anhydrous, manure, and fertilizer applications; and field cultivation where conditions allowed.     

Topsoil moisture levels statewide rated 1 percent short, 74 percent adequate, and 25 percent surplus. Moisture levels in west central Iowa rated 82 percent adequate and 18 percent surplus.

Subsoil moisture levels statewide rated 1 percent very short, 3 percent short, 76 percent adequate, and 20 percent surplus. Southeast Iowa continues to have the lowest subsoil moisture levels with 30 percent rated short to very short. Levels in west central Iowa rated 84 percent adequate and 16 percent surplus.

Two percent of the state’s expected corn acreage has been planted, five days behind the previous year and three days behind the 5-year average. Forty-two percent of the oat crop has been planted, four days behind average, with 10 percent emerged. Northwest, west central, and central Iowa farmers have planted more than half their expected oat acreage.

Pasture condition rated 3 percent very poor, 4 percent poor, 24 percent fair, 57 percent good, and 12 percent excellent. Pastures have begun to show good growth with some cows and calves already turned out into the fields. Livestock conditions have been good, although many feedlots remain muddy.

Iowa preliminary weather summary by Harry Hillaker, state climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship – Temperatures were well above seasonal normals except from Tuesday into Wednesday morning, April 11-12. A freeze was recorded over extreme western Iowa on Tuesday morning with temperatures falling to 23 degrees at Little Sioux and Sioux City. A light freeze also occurred over northeast Iowa on Wednesday morning with Elkader reporting the lowest temperature at 28 degrees.

The warmest weather was from Thursday through Saturday, April 13-15. Thursday afternoon highs reached 81 degrees at Donnellson and Keokuk while highs on Saturday reached 82 degrees at Donnellson, Indianola, Keosauqua and Ottumwa.

Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged from 4 to 6 degrees above normal in the northwest to 8 to 10 degrees above normal over the southeast with a statewide average of 7.8 degrees greater than normal for mid-April.

There were showers and thunderstorms scattered across the state from Sunday night into Monday afternoon with greatest rain amounts of a quarter to one-half inch falling over the far southeast. Showers and thunderstorms were again scattered over much of the state Wednesday night into Thursday morning with the greatest rain amounts occurring across the northeast where a few locations saw up to two-thirds of an inch. However, the bulk of the week’s rain came from statewide thunderstorms on both Friday and Saturday.

The greatest rain amounts generally were along and east of Interstate Highway 35 with only a few areas in western Iowa picking up more than an inch of rain. Severe thunderstorms brought reports of large hail to 24 counties Saturday afternoon and evening with hail up to tennis ball size reported in Plymouth, Warren and Black Hawk counties. Easter Sunday was dry statewide.

Weekly rain totals varied from 0.15 inches at Lorimor in Union County to 3.94 inches at both Fairfax and Marion in Linn County. The statewide average precipitation was 1.14 inches, or nearly double the weekly normal of 0.61 inches. Finally, soil temperatures as of Sunday, April 16, averaged in the low 50s over the far northwest to around 60 degrees over the south.

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