Crop growth ahead of average

DES MOINES ? Iowa farmers had 5.3 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending July 15, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service.

This was the greatest number of days suitable so far this crop year according to the Iowa Crop Progress and Condition report released by the USDA National Agricultural Statistical Service.

?Northern Iowa is dealing with the aftermath of the heavy rains and flooding that impacted many areas over the past month while parts of southern Iowa continue to face drought conditions,? said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. ?Crop development continues to be well ahead of the five-year average, with corn nine days and soybeans six days ahead of normal.?

The report is released weekly from April through November and is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship?s website at or on USDA?s site at

The report summary states:

Activities for the week included harvesting hay, scouting crops, and both ground and aerial herbicide and fungicide applications.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 3 percent very short, 11 percent short, 76 percent adequate and 10 percent surplus.

Subsoil moisture levels rated 4 percent very short, 12 percent short, 72 percent adequate and 12 percent surplus. In the northern two-thirds of the state, flood-related nutrient loss and crop damage are a concern while drought conditions in south central and southeast Iowa persist.

Sixty-eight percent of the corn crop has silked, one week ahead of last year and nine days ahead of the five-year average. Corn condition rated 78 percent good to excellent.

Sixty-five percent of the soybean crop was blooming, with 21 percent of the soybean crop setting pods, five days ahead of last year and six days ahead of the average. Soybean condition rated 75 percent good to excellent.

Seventy-three percent of the oat crop was turning color or beyond, with 18 percent of the crop harvested for grain. Oat condition was rated 77 percent good to excellent.

The second cutting of alfalfa hay reached 72 percent complete, eight days ahead of average. Dry conditions allowed hay growers to continue harvesting. Hay conditions rated 71 percent good to excellent.

Pasture conditions declined slightly to 62 percent good to excellent. Heat and high humidity continued to stress livestock.

Weather summary

Rain showers in northern Iowa started a warm and relatively dry week.

Much of Iowa saw below average rainfall for the reporting period. Only the northeast and northwest corners of the state recorded higher than average rainfall, anywhere from 0.5 to 1.5 inches above normal.

Statewide average temperatures were three to six degrees warmer than average. Southern Iowa saw the warmest conditions, with temperatures eight degrees above average by week?s end; average highs pushed into the mid-90s.

A fast-moving system brought isolated severe thunderstorms from Milford in Dickinson County to Laurens in Pocahontas County during the late morning hours July 10; there were a few reports of snapped tree branches and nickel-sized hail. The line quickly dissipated as it moved into central Iowa.

July 11 into July 12 saw hot and dry conditions, with only a few stations reporting measurable rainfall. Lamoni in Decatur County observed the warmest temperature of the week at 101 degrees, 15 degrees above average.

Thunderstorms propagated into northern Iowa late July 12 in advance of a low-pressure system that moved across Iowa July 13, bringing widespread measurable rainfall. Monticello, in Jones County, observed the week?s highest accumulation of 3.94 inches; Bloomfield in Davis County reported 2.75 inches. Over 30 stations reported accumulations over 1 inch. Severe hail and high winds were observed from Shenandoah to Clinton in the east, and north to Decorah, with multiple trees and power lines downed.

The weekend was generally quiet, with lingering thunderstorms across eastern Iowa on July 14. That evening, isolated thunderstorms popped up in extreme southeast Iowa, dropping 0.74 inches of rain on Keokuk in Lee County.

July 15 was a warm and humid day across Iowa with highs in the low-to-mid 80s, accompanied by heat indices in the mid-90s and a few isolated thunderstorms.

Justin Glisan, state climatologist with Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, provided the weather summary.