Another relatively dry week enabled Iowa farmers to get more field work done in preparation for spring planting, but it also led to a further decline in topsoil and subsoil moisture.
Topsoil moisture levels declined to 28 percent very short, 38 percent short, 33 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus, according to the Iowa Field Office of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Subsoil moisture slipped to 60 percent very short, 34 percent short, 6 percent adequate and zero percent surplus.
With 94 percent of Iowa experiencing short to very short subsoil moisture levels, it is the driest Iowa’s subsoil has been at the close of the third week in November since 1999. Agronomists are concerned about subsoil and topsoil moisture levels because lack of significant snowfall this winter and rainfall in the spring could hamper crop development next year.
Hay supplies are still considered short across 41 percent of Iowa with 37 percent of the hay supply considered in good condition. Livestock producers continue to move cattle to fields of corn and soybean stubble.
At Dyersville Sales on Nov. 14, large square bales of mixed hay sold at auction for $290 per ton and large round bales fetched $270 per bushel. The market was steady on large square bales and $20 per ton higher on round bales.
Forty-four consignors offered 64 loads of hay at the Fort Atkinson Hay Auction on Nov. 14. The top selling price crept up to $280 per ton on several loads of small square bales, with round bales and 3×3 square bales selling for up to $260 per ton.
Demand for bedding kept wheat straw mostly over $100 per ton, with some 3-by-4 corn stalk bales selling for up to $90 per ton. Half of the loads of hay sold over $200 per ton, with another quarter of the loads selling between $190 and $200 per ton.
The dry weather allowed farmers in southern Iowa to harvest most of their remaining crop acres. Only a few fields remain to be harvested.
The week’s most common field activities included fall tillage, fertilizer application and tile installation.