Iowa farmers are behind schedule planting this year’s corn crop due to the cool, wet weather that has delayed getting into fields, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly crop progress report.
Eight percent of Iowa’s corn crop has been planted, compared with 62 percent at this point in 2012 and the five-year average of 56 percent. Although some farmers were able to plant corn early last week before the weather turned, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said the last time corn planting was this far behind was 1995.
“We will need several days of dry weather and warmer temperatures so fields can dry out before farmers can get going again,” Northey said. “Everyone is anxious to get their corn planted. Fortunately farmers can make rapid progress when conditions allow.”
There was an average of 2.3 days suitable for fieldwork during the week that ended Sunday. Field activities included application of fertilizers and herbicides, tilling and planting.
Last week was the third of the past four with unusually heavy precipitation across the state. Temperature extremes varied from 26 degrees at Sibley on Friday to 89 degrees at Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Stanley on Tuesday.
Topsoil moisture levels were rated 1 percent very short, 3 percent short, 59 percent adequate and 37 percent surplus.
The precipitation received during the week continued to improve subsoil moisture levels. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 4 percent very short, 24 percent short and 63 percent adequate and 9 percent surplus.
Oat planting is 67 percent complete, compared with 100 percent at this time last year. Twenty-three percent of oat acreage has emerged, well behind last year’s 88 percent and the five-year average of 62 percent.
Pasture and range condition rated 10 percent very poor, 20 percent poor, 39 percent fair and 27 percent good and 4 percent excellent. Enough moisture has been received to promote new growth in pastures, but cooler than average temperatures have limited the growth of grass.
Hay continues to command higher-than-normal prices at weekly auctions in Dyersville and Fort Atkinson.
The top sale price at the Fort Atkinson Hay Auction on Wednesday was $400 per ton for fourth and fifth crop big square bales. About 25 percent of the hay was sold for more than $300 per ton.
The overall sale average at Fort Atkinson was down about $35 per ton, primarily due to lower quality loads offered at the auction.
At Dyersville Sales, the top sale price was $340 per ton on large square bales and $315 per ton on large round bales. Overall demand was good.