Pella Chronicle

November 27, 2012

Final crop condition report points to water concerns


OTTUMWA — The U.S. Department of Agriculture's final weekly report on the 2012 Iowa growing season points to an old concern: water.

Soil moisture levels declined as the weather last week stayed dry. In all, 29 percent of Iowa topsoil is considered very short of moisture, with another 43 percent short. Subsoil levels are worse, with 63 percent considered very short.

Southeastern Iowa is actually in better shape than most of the rest of the state. Fully 50 percent of southeast Iowa topsoil has adequate moisture. But the subsoil numbers, where only 11 percent is considered adequate, reveal the lingering effects of this year's drought.

The report also shows rain levels for 2012 compared to normal. Ottumwa is 6.8 inches short of normal rainfall, but that is far from the worst spot for the year. Bloomfield comes in at more than 10 inches below normal, while Marshalltown's whopping 15.16 inch deficit is the highest in the state.

Estimates put Iowa's 2012 corn production at 1.9 billion bushels. That's lower than any year since 2003 and 19 percent below last year. Soybean production is also the lowest since 2003, forecast at 409 million bushels.