Pella Chronicle

September 19, 2011


IA Secretary of Agriculture Office

Des Moines, Iowa — September 19, 2011

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today commented on the Iowa Crops and Weather report released by the USDA National Agricultural Statistical Service. The report is released weekly from April through October.

“Harvest is just starting to really get underway as farmers wait for the crop to dry down and focus on harvesting fields with wind or hail damaged,” Northey said.  “The forecast calls for sunshine this week, which will help the crop dry and harvest will likely start in earnest as result.”

Parts of Iowa received a hard freeze this week with frost reported over most of the State. Corn harvest is advancing with many farmers concentrating on getting wind- and hail-damaged corn out first. Soybean harvest is at least a week away for most farmers although scattered fields have already been harvested.

There were 5.7 days suitable for fieldwork statewide during the past week. Southwest Iowa was the only area with less than 5.0 days suitable at just 4.7 days suitable. Topsoil moisture levels rated 13 percent very short, 32 percent short, 51 percent adequate, and 4 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture rated 12 percent very short, 36 percent short, 51 percent adequate, and 1 percent surplus.

Nearly all the corn crop has advanced to at least the dent stage. Sixty percent of the corn crop is now mature, nearly 1 week behind last year but 4 days ahead of normal. Corn harvest for grain or seed is underway. Corn moisture content for the State stands at 29 percent, with the corn currently being harvested running 24 percent moisture content. Corn lodging is heavier than last year at this time thanks to several widespread wind events during August. Ear droppage is also a larger problem than last year, but only 6 percent of the crop is experiencing moderate to heavy ear droppage. Corn condition stands at 6 percent very poor, 10 percent poor, 29 percent fair, 45 percent good, and 10 percent excellent. Just over three-quarters of the soybean crop has turned color, trailing last year’s 87 percent and the five-year average 84 percent. One-quarter of Iowa’s soybean fields are dropping leaves, remaining one week behind last year and normal. Soybean condition stands at 4 percent very poor, 8 percent poor, 26 percent fair, 48 percent good and 14 percent excellent. Third cutting alfalfa hay harvest advanced to 94 percent complete, slightly behind last year’s 95 percent but ahead of the normal 90 percent. The condition of the hay crop is reported at 7 percent very poor, 16 percent poor, 34 percent fair, 36 percent good, and 7 percent excellent.

Pasture and range condition rated 9 percent very poor, 21 percent poor, 33 percent fair, 32 percent good, and 5 percent excellent. Livestock conditions have been near optimal with only a few insect issues reported.


By Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship

The past reporting week began with warm weather on Monday (12th) with high temperatures mostly in the 80’s with a few 90’s. Keosauqua, Little Sioux, Mason City and Shenandoah all reached 91 degrees. Much cooler weather prevailed for the rest of the week with highs mostly in the 70’s on Tuesday, 60’s on Wednesday and down to the 50’s by Friday before rebounding slightly over the weekend. A freeze covered much of northern Iowa on Thursday (15th) morning and scattered locations across the south. The freeze was not quite as widespread as one on the same date in 2007 (52 percent of the state at or below 32 degrees on 9/15/2007 versus 41 percent on 9/15/2011). However, a few places were much colder in 2011 with Mason City Airport reporting a low of 26 degrees, Iowa’s lowest reading for so early in the season since 1955. At Cedar Rapids and Jefferson this week’s freeze tied with 2007 as the earliest on record. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 6.7 degrees below normal. Meanwhile, three weather systems brought light rain to the state this week. The first on Wednesday morning dampened much of the southern one-third of Iowa. The second brought rain to most of the state on Friday night into Saturday. The final event on Saturday night into Sunday brought the most rain with parts of southwest, central and northeast Iowa recording between one-half and two-thirds of an inch. Weekly precipitation totals varied from none at Sibley to 1.13 inches at Jewell in Hamilton County. The statewide average precipitation was 0.40 inch or one-half of the weekly normal of 0.80 inch.