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Farmers enjoy 5 productive days

By Staff | May 1, 2009

Ag summary

Iowa farmers took advantage of nearly ideal conditions last week before idling their planters as weekend storms soaked recently planted fields.

Sunny skies, warm temperatures, and variable winds set the stage for a furious corn-planting pace across the western two-thirds of the state.

Occasional showers and scattered thunderstorms sharply curtailed fieldwork on Saturday, then widespread rains halted work on Sunday.

For the week, there were 5.1 days suitable for fieldwork, compared to the five-year average of 2.9 days. Topsoil moisture rated 5 percent short, 60 percent adequate and 35 percent surplus across the state.

Subsoil moisture rated 6 percent short, 65 percent adequate, and 29 percent surplus. Moisture shortages steadily increased through the week until late week rains quickly saturated soils.

Field crops

Statewide, corn planting advanced to a whopping 47 percent complete, far ahead of last year’s 3 percent progress, and four days earlier than the five-year average.

Oat seeding progressed to 93 percent complete, three weeks ahead of last year’s pace, and almost two weeks ahead of the five-year average. Oat emergence, at 29 percent, exceeded last year’s pace, but lagged behind the 36 percent average for this date.

Soybean planting began, but only advanced to 2 percent complete. Fertilizer applications progressed to 88 percent complete, 23 percentage points ahead of last year, and 8 percentage points ahead of the five-year average.

Pasture, range report

Pasture and range condition rated 2 percent very poor, 13 percent poor, 41 percent fair, 36 percent good and 8 percent excellent. Reporters commented that the warm weather and weekend rains were beneficial for pastures. However, one reporter in the Northeast district noted that winterkill was evident in some alfalfa fields and other forage grasses.


Practically ideal weather for fieldwork gave way to widespread heavy rainfall over the weekend. The past work week began with light rain showers, sometimes mixed with snow, over northeastern Iowa on April 20. Dry weather prevailed statewide on April 21 and April 22. Showers and thunderstorms traversed eastern Iowa on April 23, but significant rain was confined to a very small area along the Illinois border.

However, the main weather event was a prolonged period of showers and thunderstorms that first moved into western Iowa on Friday afternoon and dampened all of the state on Saturday, Sunday and early Monday morning.

The heaviest rains came on Sunday when two inches or more of rain fell over most of southwest, central and northeast Iowa. Weekly rain totals varied from 0.59 inches at Sioux City and Onawa to 5.98 inches in Waterloo and 5.47 inches in southwest Guthrie County.

The statewide average precipitation was 2.43 inches, or nearly triple the weekly normal of 0.84 inches. Fortunately, the very wet weekend was preceded by several weeks of seasonably dry weather, thus keeping flooding to a minimum.

Meanwhile, the past work week began with very cool conditions on April 20 with highs only in the 40s and 50s.

Temperatures dipped below freezing in a few areas on both April 21 and April 22. However, readings quickly climbed into the 60s and 70s by the afternoon April 22, including 81 degrees at Sioux City.

Highs on April 23 varied from the low 70s southeast to the low 90s in the far northwest. A cold front moved into the state on Friday, but not before readings climbed into the 80s over most of the southeast two-thirds of the state. Highs reached only the upper 40s on Saturday over the northwest, while warmer air moved back into the southeast on Sunday, where 70s and a few 80s returned.

Temperature extremes for the week ranged from April 21 lows of 28 degrees at Sanborn and Sibley to a Thursday afternoon high of 92 degrees at Sioux City. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 4.1 degrees above normal.

Finally, soil temperatures as of Sunday were averaging near 50 in the northwest to the mid 50s southeast.

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