Fourth wettest October since 1881 puts harvest behind

Iowa farmers had a good week for harvesting with 5.0 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending Oct. 22, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service.

However, corn and soybean harvest progress remains behind both the previous year and the five-year average. On the positive side, there were several reports for both corn and soybeans that yields were better than expected. Activities for the week included harvesting corn for grain and soybeans, spreading manure, applying fertilizer, and starting fall tillage.

Topsoil moisture levels statewide rated 3 percent very short, 6 percent short, 79 percent adequate and 12 percent surplus. Levels in west central Iowa rated 1 percent short, 83 percent adequate and 16 percent surplus.

Subsoil moisture levels statewide rated 7 percent very short, 15 percent short, 71 percent adequate and 7 percent surplus. Levels in west central Iowa were 2 percent very short, 7 percent short, 80 percent adequate and 11 percent surplus.

Nearly all of the corn for grain crop had reached maturity or beyond, three days behind average. Twenty-three percent of the corn for grain crop has been harvested (14 percent in west central Iowa), remaining the smallest percentage harvested by this date since 2009 and more than two weeks behind average. Moisture content of corn being harvested for grain averaged 20 percent. Corn condition rated 64 percent good to excellent.

Nearly a third of the soybean crop was harvested this past week increasing to 61 percent harvested (58 percent in west central Iowa), but this is also the smallest percentage harvested by this date since 2009. Southwest and south central Iowa remain the only districts to not reach 50 percent harvested. Soybean condition rated 64 percent good to excellent.

Pasture conditions have continued to improve for the fourth week in a row from recent rains to 35 percent good to excellent.

Iowa preliminary weather summary by Harry Hillaker, state climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship – A welcome period of dry weather prevailed from Sunday through Friday, Oct. 15-20, with rain returning between Saturday morning and Sunday morning (Oct 21-22). Weekend rain totals of around an inch were common across central Iowa (roughly within sixty miles of Interstate 35) with a maximum reported total of 2.67 inches at Toledo. Meanwhile, less than one-tenth of an inch of rain fell for the week over far northwestern Iowa, with only 0.01 inches reported at Orange City.

The statewide average rain amount was 0.67 inches while normal for the week is 0.56 inches. This pushes the month-to-date statewide average rain total to 5.29 inches, the fourth highest October total among 145 years of record (behind 1881, 1941 and 2009).

The week began with seasonal temperatures on Sunday and Monday with a light freeze scattered across portions of the northwest one-half of the state on Monday morning. Well above normal temperatures prevailed for the remainder of the week until a cold front moved across the state on Saturday night. A few scattered locations reached 80 degrees on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday with a maximum of 82 degrees at Burlington on Saturday. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 7.5 degrees above normal.

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