Iowa has 81% of its 2009 corn crop planted as of May 10. That's 10 days ahead of last year's pace and two days ahead of the 5-year average. Over 24% of the state's corn acreage has emerged as of May 10, compared with only 2% a year ago at this time. Normally, 23% has emerged by this date.
Soybean planting is now 21% complete in Iowa--ahead of last year's pace but 5% behind the 5-year average. Only 1% of Iowa's 2009 bean crop has emerged.
These estimates come from the weekly weather and crop conditions report issued May 11 by the Iowa Field Office of USDA's National Ag Statistics Service.
Iowa is off to a good start for 2009 crops
"The way it looks now for 2009, Iowa is headed toward an excellent year for corn growing; at least we've got a good start," notes Roger Elmore, Iowa State University Extension corn agronomist.
"Last week we had 60% planted as of Sunday May 3 and this week we have 81% of Iowa's corn planted as of Sunday May 10. Iowa is in relatively good shape on planting progress for its 2009 corn crop, compared to the last two years," says Elmore. "Iowa is progressing well this spring relative to Illinois and Indiana where corn planting is lagging way behind normal, due to wet fields this spring."
The western Corn Belt now has corn emerging and the crop looks pretty good, in general. "There are a few reports of soil crusting and poor corn emergence, and some leafing out underground," says Elmore. "But those are relatively minor, localized problems--they aren't widespread. Of course, if these conditions are in your field, such problems aren't minor to you. But overall this year's corn crop in Iowa and the western Corn Belt is doing pretty good so far."
Some farmers in certain areas of Iowa are reporting that up to 60% of their corn is emerged already--while the emergence estimates run down to about 15% in other parts of the state. "All in all, we are off to a good start this spring in Iowa and the western Corn Belt," adds Elmore.
Yield penalty for delayed corn planting?
There are farmers in Illinois, Indiana and some in the southern tier of counties in Iowa who still don't have their 2009 corn planted as of May 10. "On average we say a farmer who doesn't have corn planted yet is losing some yield potential every day that planting is delayed after about May 10 to May 15 in Iowa," says Elmore. "But it depends on the weather the rest of the growing season too."
He adds, "Remember, last year we didn't get half of our corn planted in Iowa until May 15. And at harvest we still ended up tied for 3rd place in terms of record corn yield in the history of Iowa corn production. Iowa had a state average of 171 bushels per acre last year. So planting date isn't nearly as important in the long run if you're looking at year-to-year yields as is the rest of the growing season that comes after the corn is planted."
Iowa has good corn yield potential for 2009
Last year by mid-May, farmers in the Eastern Corn Belt were way ahead of Iowa. It was wet in Iowa and as a result Iowa was lagging way behind in corn planting pace a year ago at this time. But this year it's just the opposite situation.
After having the weather stress years we've had the past several years and still getting good corn yields that have been increasing--if Iowa has a really good growing season this year--how well could the state's corn yield do?
"That's a great question," says Elmore. "In 2004 Iowa had 181 bu. per acre as a state average for corn. That's the highest ever for Iowa's statewide average. Iowa's average yield last year was 171 bushels, or 10 bushels below the record high. So we could easily go up to the 180 bushel range if we have a wonderful growing season like we did in 2004. It was quite favorable in 2004 as Iowa had relatively cool summer, timely rains, early planting. Everything came off without a hitch and Iowa produced 181 bu. per acre."
Soybean planting makes progress this week
Palle Pedersen, ISU Extension soybean agronomist recalls last year's flooding and planting delays. "This year is an easier spring," he notes. "I'm not getting a lot of questions coming from the countryside."
The May 11 weekly crop condition survey issued by the government shows 21% of Iowa's 2009 soybean acreage is now planted. "By Friday of this week, that will likely be 75% to 80% complete," says Pedersen. "The weather forecast this week looks good. Some Iowa farmers have most of their soybeans planted already. So we are in good shape here compared to farmers in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio."
Why aim to finish planting beans by May 15?
In an ideal spring, weather permitting, Pedersen recommends Iowa farmers try to finish soybean planting by May 15. That will be tough to attain this spring, but "we're doing better this spring than the last three years. The optimum time to plant beans is to start April 25 for the southern two-thirds of Iowa and begin on May 1 for the northern third of Iowa. Then we should try to be done by May 15."
If you are planting beans after May 15, you start losing bean yield potential every day. Of course, the decision to plant also relates to seedbed conditions. "You don't want to plant beans when soils are too wet or you will create soil compaction and other problems the beans will have to live with," he adds.