Little time to ‘make hay’ as rain slows farmers

Widespread rainfall meant Iowa farmers had just 2.7 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending Sept. 2, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Activities for the week included cutting hay, chopping corn silage, and moving grain.

Topsoil moisture levels across Iowa rated 4 percent very short, 6 percent short, 69 percent adequate and 21 percent surplus. Levels in west central Iowa rated 2 percent short, 70 percent adequate and 26 percent surplus.

Subsoil moisture levels statewide rated 6 percent very short, 9 percent short, 71 percent adequate and 14 percent surplus. Levels in west central Iowa rated 2 percent very short, 4 percent short, 71 percent adequate and 23 percent surplus. Much of southern Iowa received multiple inches of rain over the past week, easing moisture concerns in some areas although levels are still mostly short to very short.

Ninety-five percent of the corn crop has reached the dough stage or beyond with 77 percent dented or beyond, more than a week ahead of both last year and the 5-year average. Fifteen percent of the corn crop was mature, eight days ahead of average. There were a few reports of corn harvested for grain. Corn condition rated 74 percent good to excellent.

Almost one-third of the soybean crop was coloring with 4 percent dropping leaves. Soybean condition rated 72 percent good to excellent.

The third cutting of alfalfa hay was 79 percent complete, now more than a week behind the previous year as weather conditions allowed for little progress in cutting hay. Pasture conditions improved to 47 percent good to excellent.

Iowa preliminary weather summary by provided by Justin Glisan, Ph.D, state climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship – The final week of August was warmer and wetter than normal.

Many locations received rainfall between two to four inches more than normal, including drought-stricken areas in southern Iowa. Average temperatures were up to four degrees warmer than normal.

A series of convective systems moved across Iowa on Monday, Aug. 27, bringing moderate rainfall to much of the eastern two-thirds of the state. The northern-most tier of counties also experienced severe thunderstorm with heavy rain; Cresco (Howard County) observed 3.32 inches. There were multiple reports of hail from Sioux to Palo Alto counties, with three-inch diameter hail in Ayrshire.

Tuesday, Aug. 28, was also an active weather day as a strong cold front swept through the state, bringing severe thunderstorms and locally heavy rain to northern and southeastern Iowa. More than 30 stations recorded rainfall greater than one inch, with Keokuk (Lee County) reporting 4.90 inches.

High pressure moved into Iowa on Wednesday, bringing generally clear skies and cooler temperatures. This pattern persisted into Thursday as the high moved across the state. Average highs were unseasonably cool, ranging from the low 70s in the north to mid-70s and low 80s in the south.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 31 – Sept. 2) saw waves of showers and thunderstorms across Iowa, with many locations reporting multiple inches of rain. Traer (Tama County) observed 5.42 inches on Saturday; Montezuma (Poweshiek County) reported 5.16 inches on Sunday. There were also multiple reports of severe hail and straight-line winds across 11 counties. Two-inch diameter hail was reported in Cass County on Friday and in Polk County on Saturday. Tree damage from severe high winds was observed in Dubuque (Dubuque County) on Sunday. Average highs over the weekend were generally a few degrees warmer than normal, with Lamoni (Decatur County) observing 91 degrees on Sunday.

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