August 20, 2014

Rain eases drought fear in northwest Iowa, corn planting shoots ahead across state

Drought conditions in northwest Iowa had farmers worrying about having enough moisture as they headed into planting season. But as the work in the fields starts to get into full swing, the worry is turning to optimism.

Iowa State University agronomist, Paul Kassel, says it is early in the season, but spring rains have washed away some of the drought concern. “We’ve had good rain lately here, oh in the past six weeks — maybe four inches of rain — sometimes close to five, people are optimistic,” according to Kassel.

He works out of the Spencer office and says the rains in the 10-county area he serves have been strategically spaced, allowing nearly all the corn acreage to be planted. “I’m saying about three-fourths, I’m in an area from Spencer to Spirit Lake and then an area over east to Algona, Garner, Forest City, West Bend area, it’s about three-fourths planted in that area,” Kassel says.

Kassel says some northwest Iowa corn growers have completed planting, but a few are awaiting warmer weather.The latest U.S.D.A. crop report released Monday shows corn planting move ahead quickly across the state last week before the rain moved in.

Corn planting jumped ahead by 41-percentage points to sit at 50% complete, compared with seven percent at this time last year and the 5 year average of 32%. Five-percent of the corn crop has emerged, which is 10 days ahead of normal.

The state’s soybean planting is 3% complete with southeast Iowa leading the way with 12% planted.