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Drier weather supports field work

By Staff | Apr 17, 2009

Agriculture summary

Generally warmer and drier weather prevailed most of the week, allowing soil moisture surpluses to slowly diminish.

As conditions improved, field work resumed and gradually accelerated through the end of the week. Nitrogen applicators were especially busy knifing-in anhydrous ammonia.

Other activities included discing stalks, spreading manure and dry fertilizer, seeding oats, and repairing tile lines and waterways. Some cornfields have been planted in the state’s southwest corner, but most farmers are waiting for warmer soil temperatures.

There were 3.3 days suitable for fieldwork during the week, compared to just 0.4 of a day last year at this time. Topsoil moisture rated 3 percent short, 76 percent adequate, and 21 percent surplus across the state.

Subsoil moisture rated 2 percent short, 75 percent adequate, and 23 percent surplus. Many reporters commented that conditions remained too wet, but a few commented that rain would be welcomed in their areas.

Field crops report: Oat seeding advanced to 35 percent complete, well ahead of last year’s 4 percent pace, but behind the five-year average of 39 percent. Seeding was most active in the northeastern, central, and east central districts, where nearly one-half of the acres have been drilled.

Oat emergence, at 1 percent, exceeded last year’s progress, but trailed the 4 percent average for this date. Corn planting is underway, but only the southwestern and southeastern districts were close to 1 percent. Fertilizer applied, at 59 percent complete, was 4 percentage points ahead of last year, but 5 percentage points behind the five-year average.

Applying anhydrous ammonia was the predominant field activity during the week, but the pace was considerably slower across the northern districts.

Pastures and ranges: Pasture and range conditions rated 7 percent very poor, 17 percent poor, 42 percent fair, 28 percent good, and 6 percent excellent.

Most pastures have broken dormancy, but warmer weather is needed to accelerate vegetative growth. Beef herds have remained in mostly good condition despite variable temperatures and early spring snow storms. Farmers are continuing to feed hay while pasture growth remains slow.

Weather summary

It was a cool and relatively dry week across Iowa. Rainfall was limited to only two events during the reporting week. Light rain fell across extreme southern Iowa between evening of April 19 and morning of April 10, with the Keokuk Airport reporting the most rain with 0.65 inches. Also, rain fell over the southern one-third of the

state from late Sunday into Monday morning. The greatest rainfall this weekend was again recorded over far southeastern Iowa with 0.89 inches at the Fort Madison Airport.

Little or no rain fell across the northern two-thirds of Iowa during the reporting week while Keokuk Airport reported the most rain with 1.26 inches. The statewide average rainfall was 0.11 inches while normal for the week is 0.75 inches. This was Iowa’s driest week in seven weeks.

Temperatures were below seasonal normals throughout the week.

Highs on April 6 were only in the upper 30s to mid 40s while the temperature fell to 15 degrees at Sibley on the morning of April 7; however, highs reached into the low 60s over the southwest on April 8 and again over the west one-half on Saturday.

Sioux City reported the week’s highest temperature with a 65 degree maximum on Saturday; after lows of 20 degrees at Atlantic, Cresco and Spencer on Saturday morning.

Air temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 5.2 degrees below normal.

Finally, soil temperatures as of Sunday were averaging in the low to mid 40’s statewide.

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