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Cool weather slows crops

By Staff | Jul 17, 2009


Another cool, wet week has farmers hoping for a change in what has been an uncharacteristic cool and wet crop year so far. Producers continued to struggle with baling hay and draining excess water from feedlots and low-lying cropland.

The cool weather has also slowed plant development as temperatures remained below normal for most of the week. Some cases of green snap and hail damage were reported due to severe, but isolated thunderstorms.

Although crops are in good condition, many farmers are starting to wonder when the heat units will arrive.

There were 3.0 days suitable for fieldwork during the week, compared to the five-year average of 5.5 days.

Topsoil moisture rated 4 percent short, 67 percent adequate and 29 percent surplus across the state. Subsoil moisture rated 1 percent very short, 3 percent short, 69 percent adequate and 27 percent surplus.

Field crops

Corn was rated 14 percent tasseled, well behind the five-year average of 31 percent. Corn that has entered the silked stage was reported at 6 percent, 12 percentage points behind the five-year average, but 5 percentage points ahead of last year. Corn condition was rated 1 percent very poor, 4 percent poor, 16 percent fair, 52 percent good and 27 percent excellent.

Statewide, the corn stand’s tallest height measured 78 inches with an overall average height of 62 inches.

Most of the soybean acres have emerged with 39 percent of the crop blooming and 3 percent setting pods. Soybeans are blooming slightly ahead of last year, but 13 percentage points behind the five-year average. Soybeans are setting pods ahead of last year by 1 percentage point, but 5 percentage points behind the five-year average.

Soybean condition was rated 1 percent very poor, 4 percent poor, 18 percent fair, 57 percent good and 20 percent excellent.

The oat crop reached 96 percent headed, 2 percentage points ahead of last year, but 2 percentage points behind the five-year average. Sixty-six percent of the oat crop is now turning color, 23 percentage points ahead of last year, but 7 percentage points behind the five-year average.

Oat harvest has begun with the greatest progress in southern Iowa. Oat condition was rated 1 percent very poor, 4 percent poor, 24 percent fair, 55 percent good and 16 percent excellent.

The first cutting of alfalfa is almost complete with 35 percent of the crop completing a second cutting. Second alfalfa cutting is ahead of last year’s pace by 20 percentage points, but 12 percentage points behind the five-year average. All hay condition was rated 2 percent very poor, 10 percent poor, 29 percent fair, 46 percent good and 13 percent excellent.

Pasture and range report

Pasture and range condition rated 1 percent very poor, 6 percent poor, 22 percent fair, 50 percent good and 21 percent excellent. Reports continue to indicate stress levels for cattle on pasture decreased with the temperatures, while feedlots continue to deal with muddy pens.


It was a cool and wet week across Iowa. Temperatures averaged below normal each day except July 10 when warm and very humid air made a brief return to the state. It was dry over most of Iowa on July 6 and Saturday. However, showers and thunderstorms were widespread on July 7 into July 8 in the morning and again from late July 9 July 10. Rain also was widespread over western Iowa on Sunday. Rain totals were above normal over all but far southern areas. Weekly totals varied from 0.33 inches at Burlington to 5.16 inches at Le Mars.

The statewide average precipitation was 2.01 inches, or about double the weekly normal of 0.97 inches. The frequent thunderstorms also brought several periods of severe weather, especially in northwestern Iowa. The most widespread severe weather came over northern Iowa on the evening of July 9 and into the early morning of July 10.

Severe hail and/or high winds were reported from 17 counties on July 9 with hail up to four inches in diameter reported at Sheldon in northwest Iowa.

Temperature extremes ranged from a July 7 afternoon high of 89 degrees at Sioux City to a July 9 morning low of 51 degrees at Elkader. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 2.8 degrees below normal. Only one day so far this month has averaged warmer than normal.

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