Last week's 100-degree temperatures and continued lack of rainfall left Iowa corn and soybean crops in about half as good of shape compared to last year at this time. That's according to the weekly crop conditions report, released by the Iowa Office of USDA's National Ag Statistics Service on July 9. The weekly statewide survey in Iowa reflects the 2012 drought conditions that are widening in the Corn Belt. The drought has pushed corn prices up 45% since early June.
"The hot dry weather we experienced last week was a real challenge and the condition of both corn and soybean crops in Iowa have deteriorated significantly," says Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. "Less than half of the corn and soybeans in the state are in good to excellent condition now and statewide we need more moisture. We need rain. The high temperatures have also presented challenges for livestock producers as they seek to keep their animals cool."
Iowa farmers not only faced hot, dry conditions last week but insect populations (spider mites and corn rootworm beetles) are on the rise and a number of fields were being treated.
Only 46% of Iowa corn crop is "good to excellent," down from 62% a week ago
The weekly survey, based on conditions as of July 8, says the percentage of Iowa's corn crop that is rated "good to excellent" has now fallen to 46%. It was 62% good to excellent a week ago. A year ago 82% of Iowa's corn crop was rated good to excellent. Nationally, only 40% of the 2012 corn crop is now in good to excellent condition, compared to 48% last week and 69% a year ago this week.
Conditions are similar for soybeans. Iowa's crop is currently rated 48% "good to excellent," down from 59% last week and 80% this week a year ago. The U.S. soybean crop is rated at 38% good to excellent, according to USDA, compared to 45% a week ago and 66% last year.
Iowa State University Extension corn agronomist Roger Elmore says last week's blistering weather and lack of rain cut Iowa's yield potential by as much as 9%. Iowa normally produces a corn yield about 10% higher than the national average. In 2011 Iowa led the nation with a 172 bushel per acre yield average. "We'll lose more yield this week if it doesn't rain, and there is no rain in the forecast," notes Elmore.