Despite the continued wet weather across much of Iowa during June, 75% of the state's corn crop is still in "good to excellent" condition. Iowa's soybean crop is rated 69% good to excellent, according to the weekly weather and crop survey, released June 21 by the Iowa office of USDA's National Ag Statistics Service.
Warm weather last week provided ideal growing conditions, but the rainstorms prevented farmers from spraying and cultivating. The wettest conditions are in central, southeast and south central Iowa where there are a number of ponded areas in fields. Crop reporters who participate in the weekly survey say nitrogen loss is the biggest challenge facing corn farmers, with N lost either by leaching downward through the soil or lost to denitrification in the wettest areas of fields.
Weather further postpones fieldwork, weeds are growing fast
High winds and hail in northern Iowa damaged some corn crops, but the warm, humid conditions encouraged crop growth. In southern Iowa, farmers haven't been in the fields yet this month due to large amounts of precipitation. Farmers in southern Iowa and in most areas of the state are concerned about weeds taking over the fields. Wet weather is affecting hay production as many farmers are still trying to harvest their first cutting between rains.
Crops planted in well-drained fields are in good condition and are able to deal with the excess water. Corn crops in poorly-drained fields are under stress, are yellow, and vary in crop height. Soybeans in this same area are under water in some cases and their growth is stunted in other field situations.
"The impact is most detrimental in southern and southeast Iowa. But these heavy rains are a real concern across Iowa," says Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. "Receiving this much moisture definitely stresses the crops and often stunts the plants' growth. Hopefully this weather pattern will be changing soon and farmers will be able to replant crops that have been drowned out."
This is the 13th wettest June in 138 years of Iowa weather records
Rain continued to drench all of Iowa last week though rainfall amounts varied throughout the state. Sheldon, in northwest Iowa, received 0.33 inches of precipitation while Washington, in southeast Iowa, reported 4.50 inches.
"The statewide average rainfall was 1.90 inches or nearly double the weekly normal of 1.10 inches," says Harry Hillaker, state climatologist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture. "June 2010 already ranks as the 13th wettest June among 138 years of record keeping—averaging 7.08 inches of rain across Iowa. And there are still ten days to go in the month."
Hillaker noted that 19 counties in mostly the northwest part of the state reported severe weather on Thursday night June 17. "The next day (Friday) saw the most widespread severe weather episode so far this year with large hail and/or high winds reported from 45 counties," he says.
Les Handley, an FAC agronomist at Schleswig, in western Iowa, says the wet weather has been "both a blessing and a hindrance at the same time. Things were getting awful dry up till June 8—then it proceeded to rain almost daily until June 14," he says. "All the problems that dry weather can bring--soybeans in dry dirt, lack of nodal root development, and the fear of drought came to an end."
It's now a race to see if you can get postemergence spraying done
Now that conditions are drying up again, "it has become a race to get all the postemergence corn spraying done before we reach the stage when post products should no longer be applied," he says. "Every year we seem to run into this problem but find our way through it."
There are some fields that may not get sprayed with a postemergence herbicide this year because the ground is staying too wet to get the sprayer in there and eventually the corn will grow too tall. But preemergence herbicide treatments (if you applied them on the field after planting this spring) can work well enough to avert any disasters. Those farmers who chose not to apply preemergence herbicide treatments will hopefully think twice next year, he says.
The weekly weather and crop report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture site www.IowaAgriculture.gov or USDA's site www.nass.usda.gov/ia.
Following is a summary of the report released June 21:
Field Crops Report: Corn is mostly in good to excellent condition while soybeans are in fair to good condition across Iowa as of June 21. Corn conditions rates 2% very poor, 5% poor, 18% fair, 52% good, and 23% excellent.
Soybean acres emerged was 94% as of June 21, equal to last year's emergence and 1% lower than the 5-year average. Soybean conditions rate 2% very poor, 6% poor, 23% fair, 51% good and 18% excellent. As of June 21, 79% of Iowa's oat acres have headed, up from last year's 61% and 5-year average of 66%. Oat condition rates 2% very poor, 5% poor, 17% fair, 59% good and 17% excellent.
A reported 74% of the first cutting of alfalfa has now been harvested, higher than last year's 61% but lower than the 5-year average of 77%. Hay conditions in Iowa rate 3% very poor, 9% poor, 28% fair, 47% good and 13% excellent.
Livestock and Pasture: Pasture and range condition rates zero percent very poor, 3%poor, 20% fair, 56% good and 21% excellent. Overall livestock conditions look good, but cattle are feeling stress of wet conditions in their lots.