IOWA — Cool weather, and now soggy weather continues to hang around the state as the calendar has turned from April to May in Central Iowa. The cold temperatures that kept soil temperatures too low much of last month to allow much corn planting, especially across Northern and Eastern Iowa, are now being complicated by this weeks repetitive rounds of rain.
Monday’s USDA Crop Progress Report for Iowa showed only 9 percent of the state’s corn crop was in the ground. That’s 11 days behind last year, which saw 62 percent of the crop in the ground at this point. It’s also 9 days behind the 5-year average of 42 percent by this point.
Much of the progress in planting has been in Western Iowa, where 15 to 20 percent of the crop is in. Warmer and drier conditions in that part of the state has been beneficial, with most of that planting occurring late last week.
To the east, the coldest temperatures and record lows late last month have combined with wetter conditions to amount to less than 5 percent of the states corn crop having been planted for the eastern two-thirds of the state.
Doug Adams grows oats, corn and soybeans in Humboldt and Webster counties, finally getting some corn in the ground last week. While Adams acknowledges it’s getting late, one good week can make up a lot of ground.
“The soil temps have been right around 40 degrees up until about last week so we’re finally starting to get some warmer weather and actually did start planting some corn last week,” Adams said.
“We can put a lot of corn in the ground fairly fast. I’d say we’re good to plant corn for another week or two anyway. Middle of May is probably where we’d like to have our corn in the ground after that we start looking at some yield loss.”
Many locations around Central Iowa saw three-quarters of an inch to just over an inch of rain Monday night into Tuesday. That has likely shut down field operations for much of Central and Eastern Iowa through midweek, and more rain on the way for Thursday and Friday will make the coming warmup for the weekend and early next week critical in trying to set crops up to reach full potential.
Not only would pushing corn planting well past mid-May cut into yields, but it would also eat into profits with extra costs in the fall, due to a late-maturing, late-drying crop.
“If we plant our normal full season hybrids, they’ll be a little wetter this fall. And of course we all know how the price of fuel has gone up at the fuel stations and so has our cost to dry our crop as well, the LP gas, the natural gas used to dry our crops.”
While the warmer weather in the 7-day continues to tempt those waiting to get into the fields, there has been one positive to the wet weather that has arrived in Central Iowa. Drought conditions continue to shrink and the moisture deficits in the top soil continue to shrink.
In fact, growing areas of the southeastern half of the state are now rated as having surplus topsoil moisture, adding to the importance of the drier, sunny days forecasted for the weekend and beyond.