Harvest far behind normal year

Most Iowa farmers fell further behind on harvest due to rain throughout much of the state during the week ending Oct. 15, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. There were only 2.0 days suitable for fieldwork; the second week in a row Iowa has had less than three days suitable for fieldwork.

Many activities were delayed due to the wet conditions, but when the weather allowed farmers harvested corn for grain and soybeans, planted cover crops, and hauled manure.

Topsoil moisture levels statewide rated 4 percent very short, 7 percent short, 71 percent adequate and 18 percent surplus. Levels in west central Iowa rated 70 percent adequate and 30 percent surplus.

Subsoil moisture levels statewide rated 9 percent very short, 16 percent short, 68 percent adequate and 7 percent surplus. Levels in west central Iowa rated 2 percent very short, 8 percent short, 76 percent adequate and 14 percent surplus.

Ninety-four percent of corn had reached maturity or beyond, six days behind last year and two days behind the 5-year average. Just 13 percent of the corn crop for grain has been harvested (8 percent in west central Iowa), the smallest percentage harvested by this date since 2009 and more than weeks behind average. Moisture content of corn being harvested for grain averaged 21 percent. Corn condition rated 61 percent good to excellent.

Ninety-six percent of soybeans were dropping leaves, one day ahead of last year and two days ahead of average. Thirty-two percent of the soybean crop has been harvested (24 percent in west central Iowa), the lowest percentage harvested by this date since 1985. Only east central Iowa farmers have harvested more than 50 percent of their soybean crop. Soybean condition rated 63 percent good to excellent.

Pasture conditions continued to improve with the additional rain to 31 percent good to excellent. Feedlots remain very muddy.

Iowa preliminary weather summary by Harry Hillaker, state climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship – It was another wet week across most of Iowa with highly variable temperatures.

There were two statewide rain events with both bringing the heaviest rains to eastern Iowa. The first rain event moved into western Iowa on Monday night, Oct. 9, and very slowly exited eastern Iowa on Thursday morning. The second rain event developed over western Iowa on Friday morning, Oct 13, and moved out of eastern Iowa Saturday night. Between the two events rain totals exceeded an inch over most of the southeastern two-thirds of Iowa while only light rain fell across the far northwest counties.

Weekly rain totals varied from only 0.05 inches at Doon in Lyon County to 4.68 inches near Peosta in Dubuque County. The statewide average rain total was 1.54 inches while normal for the week is 0.58 inches. The statewide average precipitation already ranks as the seventh highest for October among 145 years of records with one-half of the month still ahead.

The week began with unseasonably warm weather on Sunday when highs were in the 70s and 80s statewide. The coolest weather came on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Rock Rapids reported the state’s first freeze of the season on Tuesday morning with a 31 degree temperature. A hard freeze followed the next morning over parts of extreme northwest Iowa with the lowest temperature of 25 degrees reported at Sheldon.

Freezing temperatures were confined roughly along and west of a line from Estherville to Storm Lake to Logan.

Meanwhile Fort Madison reported the week’s highest temperature with an 84 degree high on Monday. However, very warm weather also returned to southeastern Iowa late in the week with highs of 80 degrees at Centerville on Friday and also at Keokuk on Saturday.

Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged from a degree or two below normal over extreme western Iowa to four to six degrees above normal over the southeast with a statewide average of 2.6 degrees above normal.

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