Cold and rain slowing planting

Fieldwork activities were limited as rain across the state held Iowa farmers to just 1.9 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending May 12, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Iowa farmers remain hopeful for warmer conditions as below normal temperatures continued to slow crop emergence across the state.

Topsoil moisture levels across Iowa rated 1 percent short, 67 percent adequate and 32 percent surplus. Levels in west central Iowa were 81 percent adequate and 19 percent surplus.

Subsoil moisture levels statewide rated  1 percent short, 66 percent adequate and 33 percent surplus. In west central Iowa subsoil moisture levels rated 1 percent short, 78 percent adequate and 21 percent surplus.

Statewide, just 48 percent of the expected corn crop has been planted, 4four days behind last year and just over a week behind the five-year average. This is the smallest percent of corn planted by May 12 since 2013 when just 15 percent of the expected crop had been planted. It is the fifth time in 40 years that less than half the expected crop has been planted by May 12. West central Iowa has the highest percentage of corn planted at 67 percent, while northeast Iowa has the lowest percent of corn planted at 24 percent. Five percent of the crop has emerged, five days behind last year and more than a week behind average.

Thirteen percent of the expected soybean crop has been planted, six days behind both last year and average. Just 1 percent of the crop has emerged, two days behind average.

The first hay condition rating of the season was 1 percent very poor, 6 percent poor, 31 percent fair, 54 percent good and 8 percent excellent. Recent rains helped green up pastures, but growth remained slow due to below normal temperatures across the state. Pasture condition rated 61 percent good to excellent, equal to last week. Rain this past week resulted in muddy feedlots again.

Iowa preliminary weather summary provided by Justin Glisan, Ph.D., state climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship  – Cooler than normal conditions experienced during the first part of May continued through this reporting period. Average temperatures were 8-10 degrees cooler than average in northwestern Iowa with 4-6 degree departures over the rest of the state. Wetter than normal conditions were observed in western and northern Iowa with the highest rainfall totals in southwestern Iowa.

Isolated thunderstorms swept across Iowa on Sunday afternoon into Monday morning, May 5-6, along a cold front moving through the state. There were two reports of one-inch hail in Callender (Webster County) and Elkader (Clayton County). Monday afternoon into evening saw widespread showers and thunderstorms associated with a low pressure system moving through northern Missouri. The highest accumulation reported at 7 am Tuesday morning was 2.11 inches at Keokuk Lock and Dam (Lee County). The average statewide rainfall total was 0.25 inches.

High temperatures ranged from the mid to upper 50s west and north to low 70s in the southeast corner of Iowa. Tuesday and Wednesday, May 8, marked the wettest period of the week as another low pressure system brought ample rainfall to Iowa. More than 70 stations reported two-day rain totals more than 1.00 inch with all remaining stations reporting measurable rain; the average statewide rain accumulation was 0.63 inch. Little Sioux (Harrison County) observed 2.15 inches.

Thursday, May 9, was the coldest day of the week as cold air wrapped around the exiting low pressure. Daytime highs averaged 50 degrees statewide, 20 degrees below average. Cresco (Howard County) observed a high of 44 degrees, 23 degrees below average. Overnight lows into Friday  were 10 degrees below average, at 36 degrees. Mostly sunny and cooler conditions prevailed on Friday with light variable winds generally out of the north and west.

Rain showers moved through parts of Iowa over the weekend, with both days experiencing measurable totals. Saturday, May 11, began with light showers moving into southern and eastern Iowa before dissipating in the afternoon. Another line of light to moderate showers entered western Iowa ahead of a slow moving cold front. The line continued across the state into Sunday  with most western stations reporting totals under an inch; Denison (Crawford County) reported 0.80 inch. Weekend highs were in the low to mid 50s, 10 to 20 degrees below average.

Weekly rainfall totals ranged from 0.38 inch in Davenport (Scott County) to 2.90 inches in Shenandoah (Page County). The statewide average precipitation for the week was slightly more than the average of 1.00 inch at 1.20 inches.

Temperatures also averaged 51.2 degrees, around seven degrees below normal. The week’s high temperature of 80 degrees was observed at Keokuk Lock and Dam (Lee County) on May 6, nine degrees warmer than average. Sibley (Osceola County) reported the week’s low temperature of 30 degrees on May 10, 13 degrees below average.

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