Iowa crops showing signs of stress from heat and lack of rain


Spotty rains across the state did not do much to boost soil moisture.

According to the Iowa Crop Progress Report, there were six days good for fieldwork, with topsoil moisture levels 64 percent in the short to very short category, and 69 percent of subsoil moisture is also short to very short.

State Climatologist Dr. Justin Glisan says since June is supposed to be the wettest month in Iowa, this is surprising. 

“Looking back at historical records going back a 149 years, this is the top tenth driest start to June for the northern 2/3rds of the state.”

Luckily, there has been a shift to a more active storm track over the state where Iowa has seen a bit more rain.

Looking at longer term precipitation deficits, going back 12-14 months, Glisan says overall we’re 10-20 inches of water below average. He says, thankfully, it appears for the outlook does appear to be cooler and wetter than normal.

“But moving forward we definitely need several weeks and months of consistent rainfall, what we expect climatologically, and perhaps above average to really get those aquifers and really subsoil profiles, fully recharged.”

The Crop Progress Report does say crops are showing signs of stress from the heat and lack of rain over the past week, with some reports of corn curling and ground cracking. Iowa’s corn conditions rated 56 percent good to excellent, seven points below last week.

With Soybean emergence now 96 percent complete, a week ahead of normal, scattered reports of soybeans setting pods, with conditions at 57 percent good to excellent.

And our analyst Don Roose has the markets:

“The grain market overnight tried to react to the crop ratings which were down three on corn and two on beans. Spring wheat really torpedoed down 10 percent. But the dominant issue is the rating which are lower versus the improved weather which are adding bushels back to the crop. So, taking a risk premium out of the corn although finding some strength on corn with China buying soybeans here at the beginning of the week. So, it’s a market that’s highly dependent on the weather, looking forward to the acres and stocks report June 30th. That’ll be the dominant issue, the weather forecast near term looks like we’ve got adequate moisture coming through, at least on Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and that’s an anchor on the market. Cattle market seeing a good bounce today, we’ve got cattle trying to push up the limit, the supplies continue to tighten more like when we get into July so the feedlots are going to be in a better bargaining position with the packer. The hog market got into a position where it’s deeply oversold, it’s getting a bounce today still the Chinese hogs continue to make new lows as the U.S. hogs hold firm. But hog market feels like it’s toppy anticipating the hog and pig report.”

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