WC farmers close to ‘average’ in soil moisture, crop progress

Iowa farmers were held to 3.8 days suitable for fieldwork after storms left measurable rainfall across much of the state during the week ending May 13, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Topsoil moisture levels statewide rated 2 percent very short, 6 percent short, 69 percent adequate and 23 percent surplus. Topsoil moisture levels in west central Iowa rated 1 percent short, 80 percent adequate and 19 percent surplus.

Subsoil moisture levels statewide rated 4 percent very short, 10 percent short, 69 percent adequate and 17 percent surplus. Levels in west central Iowa rated four percent short 83 percent adequate and 13 percent surplus. Intermittent rain interrupted fieldwork and planting activities in portions of the state, but recent rains have failed to relieve the dry soil conditions in the southern one-third of the state.

Iowa growers have planted 65 percent of the expected corn crop, four days ahead of last year. While the southern two-thirds of the state already has 79 percent or more of the corn crop planted, north central has almost three-quarters of the crop left to be planted. Twenty-six percent of the crop has emerged.

Soybean growers have 33 percent of the expected crop in the ground, led by farmers in southeast Iowa who have planted almost two-thirds of their expected crop. Five percent of the crop has emerged. Ninety-two percent of the expected oat crop has been planted, one week behind last year and tree days behind the five-year average. Sixty-one percent of the crop has emerged, six days behind last year, and five days behind the average.

West central Iowa crops are on par wit the state averages, with 79 percent of the corn planted and 28 percent emerged. Thirty-five percent of the expected soybean acreage is planted, with 2 percent emerged.

Rain and warm temperatures have benefited hay acreage and pasture conditions statewide. The first hay condition rating of the season was 4 percent very poor, 5 percent poor, 34 percent fair, 45 percent good and 12 percent excellent. Pasture condition rated 49 percent good to excellent, an increase of 9 percentage points from the previous week. Cattle and sheep are grazing on permanent pastures in many areas and farmers are waiting for drier conditions to take their first cutting of hay for the year.

Iowa preliminary weather summary by Michael Timlin, regional climatologist, Midwestern Regional Climate Center – Iowa saw a strong  gradient from north to south in both temperature and precipitation during the week. In the northern third of the state, temperatures were near normal while precipitation was two to three times normal. In the southern two-thirds, temperatures were above normal, up to 5 to 7 degrees near the Missouri border, with precipitation ranging from near normal to well below normal; some parts of central Iowa had less than 25 percent of normal for the week.

Precipitation totals for the 7-day period ranged from less than 0.10 inches in some central Iowa locations to more than 2.50 inches in northern locations. Lake Park reported 3.13 inches, the highest total for the week. More than a dozen stations across northern Iowa had four or five days with at least 0.10 inches of precipitation.

Severe weather was limited to a 1.75 inch diameter hail report from Dickinson County on the May 8 and a couple 1.00 inch hail reports on each May 8, 11, and 13, along with a single high wind report on May 13.

Temperatures remained above 40 degrees with just a few exceptions. The coldest reading came from the northeast part of the state, 38 degrees at Cresco on May 12. Nearly all stations across the state reached the 80s during the week with the warmest reading of 87 degrees on May 9 at two locations, Clarinda and Shenandoah.

Soil temperatures remained in the 50s and 60s throughout the week. Moderate drought continued for less than 15 percent of the state, located along the southern border, with about 40 percent of the state either in drought or considered abnormally dry.

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