Wet week keeps farmers out of fields

Another week of storms which delivered heavy precipitation across much of Iowa resulted in just 2.1 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending June 24, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. West central Iowa farmers had only 1.3 days for fieldwork. Activities for the week included checking rain gauges, assessing flood damage, harvesting hay, and applying post-emergent herbicides when weather permitted.

Topsoil moisture levels statewide rated 1 percent very short, 6 percent short, 68 percent adequate and 25 percent surplus. Levels in west central Iowa rated 1 percent very short, 3 percent short, 71 percent adequate and 25 percent surplus.

Subsoil moisture levels across the state rated 3 percent very short, 10 percent short, 67 percent adequate and 20 percent surplus. In west central Iowa those levels were 2 percent short, 83 percent adequate and 15 percent surplus. Heavy rainfall left many fields ponded and caused flooding in some northern counties. In south central Iowa the topsoil moisture supplies rated adequate to surplus reached 66 percent; the highest percentage in these categories since the week ending June 4, 2017.

Eighty-one percent of the corn crop was rated in good to excellent condition. Nearly all the soybean crop has emerged with 4 percent of the crop blooming, three days ahead of both last year and the 5-year average. Seventy-nine percent of the soybean crop was rated in good to excellent condition.

With the first cutting of alfalfa hay nearing completion, the second cutting reached 8 percent complete. Putting up hay was a challenge this week due to persistent precipitation. Hay condition rated 73 percent good to excellent. Pasture conditions rated 67 percent good to excellent.

Iowa preliminary weather summary by Justin Glisan, state climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship – Iowa experienced a pronounced pattern shift from previous weeks that brought measurable precipitation to the state. This active pattern produced both flash and short-term flooding across northwestern and western Iowa.

On Monday, June 18, a stationary boundary situated over northwest Iowa fired up storms in the early morning and late afternoon hours. Council Bluffs recorded 5.52 inches of rain on June 19 as thunderstorms moved through southern Iowa. A low pressure system moved in on the 20th, bringing heavy rain to the state’s northwestern corner; flood warnings were issued in multiple counties, including Clay, Dickinson, and Osceola. As the day progressed, a line of severe thunderstorms formed in central Iowa and raced towards the north and east. There were multiple reports of severe winds, hail, and weak tornadoes, with Perry and Scranton observing snapped and uprooted trees.

On Thursday, flood warnings encompassed six counties in the northwest as the low propagated south. Isolated thunderstorms popped up in central Iowa that evening. June 22 and 23 and saw relatively quiet conditions across the state, while thunderstorms (some severe) returned on Sunday to central Iowa. A slow-moving line stretched from Centerville northwest to Le Mars, bringing accumulations of up to two inches near Sioux City.

In terms of temperature, the week began with highs averaging 4-8 degrees above normal. Donnellson, in Lee County, observed highs of 96 degrees June 18 and 98 degrees June 19, almost 14 degrees above normal. Midweek saw temperatures fall below normal, with average departures up to eight degrees in the north and west. Sioux Center (Sioux County) reported a high of 65 degrees on the June 21, which was almost 20 degrees below normal. The week ended unseasonably cool with average highs 10 to 12 degrees below normal in Iowa’s southern third; statewide average temperatures were in the low 70s.

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