The Weekly Crops & Weather report--issued every year during the planting, growing and harvesting seasons--has started up again for 2012. You can view the bulletin online each week to keep up to date on Iowa weather and crop progress. The website is www.nass.usda.gov/ia. The reports are provided weekly from early spring until the end of November. Go to the site, find the Iowa Publications tab, click on the heading "Crop Progress and Condition" for the date you're looking for.
"For 2012, these valuable reports started on April 2 and will provide weekly updates on weather and crop progress in Iowa," explains Steve Johnson, an Iowa State University Extension farm management specialist in central Iowa. The data for the reports are provided by 200 volunteer enumerators statewide.
The enumerators are trained to gather data in the fields. They submit it to USDA each week by fax, mail and mostly on-line. They send it to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) prior to Monday morning—as the data is for the week ending on Sunday evening. Thus, the information that is analyzed and assembled by USDA/NASS and then is released to the public on Monday afternoon is current and up to date.
Reports provide update on soil moisture situation, and more
The data submitted by the enumerators are for counties, but it is then compiled for the 9 crop reporting districts in Iowa—and is reported that way. For example, in the crop progress report for the week ending April 1, 2012 you see that oat planting was 56% finished in northwest Iowa, 55% in central Iowa, 44% in southwest Iowa, and so on.
The rainfall totals and growing degree days or GDDs began on April 1, says Johnson. This information is updated weekly with the ISU Mesonet and National Weather Service data compiled by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. In Iowa and nationwide the weekly reports are released at 3 p.m. Central Daylight Time on Mondays. They are typically called Crop Progress Reports, but Iowa calls theirs Crops & Weather.
"You should note especially that these reports provide an update on the soil moisture situation for each of Iowa's 9 crop reporting districts in addition to an update on field work and crop progress in each district or county," says Johnson. "The weekly soil moisture report is of particular interest this year; much of Iowa is quite dry going into the 2012 planting season." Look for a handy table in the report each week showing the amount of topsoil moisture as well as amount of subsoil moisture left in the soil profile for each crop reporting district.
Weather in Iowa this spring has been "record-breaker" warm
Following are some highlights from this past week's report, issued Monday April 2 by the Iowa Office of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service or NASS.
The report states: "The weather this spring has been record-breaking and it is making farmers very anxious to get into the fields. While there has already been some corn planting take place on a small amount of Iowa's acres, most field work has been limited to spring tillage and fertilizer application. The warm weather during March and early April has also allowed for oats to be planted at a record pace, with over half of the state's oat acreage already in the ground."
The weekly report is also available on the Iowa Department of Ag & Land Stewardship site at www.IowaAgriculture.gov. IDALS is a partner with Iowa NASS in helping to publish this weekly report.
Iowa farmers eager to get into fields with their corn planters
CROP REPORT: Sunshine and above normal temperatures have Iowa farmers eager to plant their crop for the 2012 year. Warm conditions have most farmers believing we are in the month of May instead of early April. Some farmers have been spotted planting corn in fields although the earliest allowable planting date in Iowa for full crop insurance coverage is April 11. Throughout the state, most field work has involved anhydrous ammonia and dry fertilizer application. Manure hauling and some tillage work have taken place this week.
There were 4.7 days suitable for fieldwork the past week. Topsoil moisture for the state as a whole rated 8% very short, 28% short, 60% adequate and 4% surplus. Subsoil moisture rated 17% very short, 32% short, 49% adequate and 2% surplus.
Oat acreage planted was 58% complete as of April 2, well beyond both last year's 4% and the five-year average of 7%. This marks the first time since 1981 Iowa farmers have had over half their oat acreage planted by the beginning of April. In 1981, 46% was planted by March 29.
Pasture and range condition on April 2, 2012 rated 1% very poor, 5% poor, 27% fair, 49% good and 18% excellent. Warmer than normal weather conditions have provided cattle with opportunity to give birth on green pastures rather than dry lots throughout Iowa.
IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY for week ending April 1, 2012
By Harry Hillaker, state climatologist, Iowa Dept. of Agriculture
The past week brought weather much more typical of May instead of late March. Temperatures averaged from 9 degrees above normal in the northeast to 21 degrees above normal in the southwest with a statewide average of 14.1 degrees above normal. But, temperatures were more variable than seen in recent weeks. Highs on Monday (March 26) varied from the upper 40's northeast to lower 80's southwest. Highs on Tuesday (March 27) were mostly in the 70's and on Wednesday (March 28) from the low 60's north to mid-70's southwest. On Thursday (March 29) highs were only in the upper 50's southeast to lower 70's northwest while on Friday (March 30) varied from the upper 40's northeast to mid-70's southwest.
The weekend brought a wide gradient in temperatures with highs on Saturday (March 31) from the upper 40's northeast to near 90 over the far west while Sunday (April 1) brought highs from the low 60's northeast to low 90's far west. Temperature extremes for the week varied from a Wednesday morning low of 29 degrees at Sibley to an amazing Sunday afternoon high of 93 degrees at Sioux City.
Light freezes occurred over very small areas of the northwest on Wednesday morning and over the northeast on Thursday morning. Rain fell nearly statewide on Thursday night with isolated showers and thunderstorms every other day except Sunday. Weekly rain totals varied from none at Battle Creek (Ida County) to 3.63 inches at Bedford. The statewide average precipitation for the week was 0.62 inch or just slightly more than the normal of 0.60 inch. Finally, there were isolated occurrences of large hail in southwest Iowa on Thursday evening, west central Iowa on Friday evening and east central Iowa on Saturday evening.
For farm management information and analysis, go to ISU's Ag Decision Maker site www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm and ISU Extension farm management specialist Steve Johnson's site www.extension.iastate.edu/polk/farmmanagement.htm.