Crops starting to show effects of dry, hot weather

Hot, dry weather continued across the state with a few reports of notable precipitation during the week ending July 16, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were 5.8 days suitable for fieldwork. Activities for the week included hauling grain, applying herbicides, cultivating, and haying.

Topsoil moisture levels statewide rated 18 percent very short, 33 percent short, 48 percent adequate and 1 percent surplus. Levels in west central Iowa rated 21 percent very short, 43 percent short, 35 percent adequate and 1 percent surplus.

More than 85 percent of south central and southeast Iowa’s topsoil falls into the short to very short moisture level categories, while 90 percent of northeast Iowa’s topsoil falls into the adequate to surplus categories.

Subsoil moisture levels statewide rated 13 percent very short, 29 percent short, 57 percent adequate and 1 percent surplus. Levels in west central Iowa rated 10 percent very short, 37 percent short, and 53 percent adequate.

Thirty-seven percent of Iowa’s corn crop has reached the silking stage (45 percent in WC Iowa), five days behind last year and two days behind the 5-year average. Corn conditions deteriorated slightly to 1 percent very poor, 5 percent poor, 23 percent fair, 58 percent good, and 13 percent excellent.

A little more than half of the soybean crop was blooming (59 percent in WC Iowa), with 11 percent of soybeans setting pods which is equal to the average. Soybean condition also fell to 2 percent very poor, 8 percent poor, 27 percent fair, 54 percent good, and 9 percent excellent. Crops were described as suffering from heat stress and lack of moisture across much of the state.

The second cutting of alfalfa hay reached 76 percent complete, eight days ahead of average. Hay condition rated 64 percent good to excellent. Scattered reports of third cutting of alfalfa were received. Pasture condition continued to decline with just 46 percent good to excellent. High temperatures and humidity were reported to cause heat stress to livestock.

Iowa preliminary weather summary by Harry Hillaker, state climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship – It was another week of mostly warmer than normal weather with highly variable rain totals. Hot and humid weather predominated from Sunday through Wednesday, July 9-12, and again over the following weekend. Humidity and temperatures were somewhat lower on Thursday and Friday, July 13-14. Temperature extremes varied from a Monday afternoon high of 98 degrees at Ottumwa (the highest official temperature thus far this summer in Iowa) to Friday morning lows of 49 degrees at Estherville and Swea City.

Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged from one to two degrees below normal across the northeast one-third or so of Iowa to three to five degrees above normal over the southwest one-third with a statewide average of 1.5 degrees above normal.

Just about all of the week’s rain fell between early Monday morning and Thursday morning. Thunderstorms brought rain to about the northeast one-half of the state Monday morning with totals of one to two inches common along, and just east of, a Mason City-Iowa City-Burlington line. Thunderstorms brought scattered rainfall from west central, through central, to southeast Iowa on Tuesday morning with a few small areas seeing more than an inch of rain. A small area of thunderstorms developed across extreme northeast Iowa late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning with 6.35 inches of rain recorded at Garber with still greater unofficial amounts reported in far southeastern Clayton County, resulting in significant flash flooding. Finally, rain fell over most of the southeast two-thirds of Iowa on Wednesday into Thursday morning with some locally heavy rains in far southwest and extreme southeast Iowa.

Weekly rain totals varied from only sprinkles in extreme northwest Iowa to 7.03 inches at Garber. The statewide average rainfall was 0.86 inches while normal for the week is 1.05 inches. Rock Rapids has recorded only 0.01 inch of rain thus far in July, while Keosauqua at the opposite end of the state has recorded only 3.50 inches of rain since May 11, 7.03 inches less than normal for the period.


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