Iowa's crop condition, soil moisture levels deteriorate without rainfall

Hay, pasture conditions continue to deteriorate

George Ford
Published: August 21 2013 | 5:00 am - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 7:20 pm in
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Lack of significant rainfall and cooler-than-normal temperatures continue to take their toll on Iowa's corn and soybean crops.

The U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday showed moderate drought spreading from southwest Iowa. Linn and Johnson counties were not shown as abnormally dry, but that could change when this week's map is released, according to KCRG Chief Meteorologist Joe Winters.

"I would expect the moderate drought area to expand into southeast Iowa and the abnormally dry conditions to expand further north," Winters said.

"We have one chance of precipitation on Wednesday night or Thursday morning. If that doesn't happen, I think the southern half of Iowa will fall in the moderate drought category when the map is released on Aug. 29."

Winters said northeast Iowa farmers were helped by heavier spring rains, but corn in that area of the state is showing some stress.

"Certainly there are places that received needed rainfall, but there also are places that did not," he said. "It's really going to be patchy."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday reported that there was an average of 6.4 days suitable for fieldwork statewide in the week that ended on Sunday. Southwest Iowa received the most rainfall during the week, and had the least days suitable for fieldwork with 5.8.

A total of 35 percent of topsoil and 41 percent of subsoil was in the adequate and surplus moisture categories, both declining 6 percent from last week.

Topsoil moisture levels were rated 25 percent very short, 40 percent short, 34 percent adequate and 1 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 19 percent very short, 40 percent short, 40 percent adequate and 1 percent surplus.

Corn condition declined slightly from the previous week, and was rated at 5 percent very poor, 13 percent poor, 34 percent fair, 40 percent good and 8 percent excellent.

With nearly all the corn crop tasseled, 93 percent was silking, behind the five-year average of 99 percent. Sixty-two percent of the corn crop reached the milk stage, trailing the normal 87 percent.

Twenty-four percent of the corn crop has reached the dough stage, well behind the normal 60 percent. Some of the very earliest planted corn crop has reached the dent stage.

Soybean condition declined slightly from last week and was rated 5 percent very poor, 12 percent poor, 36 percent fair, 38 percent good and 9 percent excellent.

With 95 percent of the soybean crop blooming, pods were being set on 71 percent of the soybean crop, well behind last years 94 percent and the normal 89 percent.

The third cutting of alfalfa has reached 36 percent compete, 9 days behind the normal pace. Both hay and pasture conditions continued to deteriorate with 4 percent rated good and 3 percent excellent.

Hay condition was rated at 5 percent very poor, 13 percent poor, 36 percent fair, 40 percent good and 6 percent excellent. Pasture condition rated 10 percent very poor, 22 percent poor, 40 percent fair, 25 percent good and 3 percent excellent.

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