Iowa Corn Crop Rates 81% 'Good To Excellent'

But some long-range forecasts are predicting summer will be hotter and drier than the Corn Belt has been in recent years.

Published on: May 23, 2012

USDA's first weekly rating on the 2012 Iowa corn crop indicates 60% of the crop is in good condition and 21% is excellent. Thus, 81% of Iowa's corn crop is starting off the 2012 growing season in "good to excellent" shape.

That's according to the latest weekly Crops & Weather Report, based on a statewide survey of crop reporters, reflecting  conditions as of Sunday May 20. The data gathered is compiled and released each Monday by the Iowa office of USDA's National Ag Statistics Service. Greg Thessen, director of the NASS office in Des Moines, notes that generally a 70% "good to excellent" rating indicates a potentially strong crop.

Iowa Corn Crop Rates 81% Good To Excellent
Iowa Corn Crop Rates 81% 'Good To Excellent'

This year's Iowa April and May corn plantings have been helped by timely April rainfall, which has eased somewhat the earlier concerns about dry soil conditions. Crop conditions as of May 20 are almost as good in Illinois, which ranks number two behind Iowa in corn production. The Illinois crop is currently rated at 79% "good to excellent."

Another sign of a good start for this year's Iowa corn crop is that 81% of it has emerged as of May 20 versus a 5-year average of 59%. It's a good sign when a crop is planted early and emerges early, helping it to pollinate earlier than usual, before the late July and August heat hit. An earlier than normal maturing crop also makes it less vulnerable to a possible early frost in September, should an early frost occur.

As of May 20 Iowa farmers have 85% of the state's soybean crop planted

The report says as of May 20 Iowa farmers have 85% of the state's soybean crop planted, compared to a normal of 50% by this date. And 26% of the 2012 soybean crop has emerged, double the normal progress by May 20, based on the 5-year average.

Weather concerns are still being expressed by traders on the Chicago Board of Trade, where on May 21 the December corn futures price gained a few cents per bushel to $5.40 and November soybeans were up 18 cents to $13.06 per bushel. Some long range weather forecasts have predicted a hotter and drier summer than the Corn Belt has had in recent years. That has given support to corn prices which had dropped 15% in the last month based on expectations of a possible big crop in 2012 that would return U.S. corn surpluses to more normal levels of nearly 2 billion bushels in the expected carryout at the end of August 2013.

Most of Iowa's corn and soybean crop now planted, farmers want some rain

"Most of the crop has been planted and many farmers are now focused on any replanting that may be needed or on spraying weeds," observes Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. "Farmers with hay fields have taken advantage of the weather to make hay this past week. Much of the state is fairly dry and many farmers are now looking for a rain shower after last week's warm temperatures and windy conditions."

The weekly report is on the Iowa Department of Ag & Land Stewardship's website or on USDA's site

CROP REPORT: Iowa farmers took advantage of another warm and dry week and planted crops at a rapid pace. As corn planting neared completion, farmers were able to focus more on soybean planting. Other activities are spraying crops and cutting hay.

There were 6.6 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending May 20, compared with 5.1 days the previous week. With areas in Northwest Iowa receiving at least an inch of rain, it was the only district with less than six days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture levels rate 7% very short, 37% short, 55% adequate, and 1% surplus. Subsoil moisture rates 6% very short, 24% short, 67% adequate and 3% surplus.

Iowa corn planting now 98% complete, a few farmers have had to replant

Corn planting now stands at 98% complete. A few farmers have reported having to replant some corn fields damaged by late April showers. Eighty-one percent of the corn crop has emerged, 1 week ahead of normal. Corn condition is rated 1% very poor, 2% poor, 16% fair, 60% good and 21% excellent.

Soybean planting advanced 46 percentage points statewide, and now stands 85% complete, ahead of last year's 69% and the 5-year average of 60%. Farmers in North Central Iowa planted 55% of their soybeans during the week, the largest increase in the state. Twenty-six percent of Iowa's 2012 expected soybean acreage has emerged, ahead of last year's 16% and the 5-year average of 13%.

Looking at Iowa's 2012 oat crop, 20% has headed, almost 3 weeks ahead of normal. Oat condition decreased slightly to zero percent very poor, 2% poor, 19% fair, 64% good and 15% excellent. Iowa's pasture and range land is now rated 68% good to excellent, a 5 point decrease from the previous week. Pasture condition rates 1% very poor, 5% poor, 26% fair, 48% good and 20% excellent.

IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—for week ending May 20, 2012

By Harry Hillaker, state climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship

Iowa experienced a mostly dry and warm week. Rain was limited to only three events. The first two events brought scattered light rain to small portions of far eastern Iowa on Tuesday evening and far western Iowa on Saturday morning. The last event on Saturday night brought over an inch of rain to a few areas along the western border of the state with light rain extending into about the west one-third of Iowa. No rain was reported over most of the eastern two-thirds of Iowa this week while Correctionville in Woodbury County reported the most rain with 2.03 inches. The statewide average precipitation was 0.15 inch while normal for the week is 1.05 inches.

Clear skies and dry air brought cool nights and warm days from Monday (14th) through Thursday (17th). Temperatures fell as low as 38 degrees at Belle Plaine, Coggon and Grinnell on Monday morning and 36 degrees at Sheldon on Wednesday morning while Ames recorded a high of 92 degrees on Tuesday afternoon. Increasing clouds and humidity resulted in much higher overnight temperatures on Friday and Saturday with daytime highs mostly in the 80s along with some 90s. Sioux City reached 93 degrees on Friday and Spencer soared to 95 on Saturday. A cold front brought much lower temperatures and humidity Sunday but not before Davenport and Lowden reached 90 degrees. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 6.5 degrees above normal.

The recent dry weather has been fabulous for allowing rapid planting but rain is greatly needed over much of central and eastern Iowa where no precipitation of consequence has occurred in two weeks. The recent dryness has been exacerbated by frequent strong winds, low humidity and above normal temperatures statewide.