The latest U.S.D.A. crop report shows drier conditions last week allowed farmers to get a lot of field work done, with 70 percent of the expected corn acreage now planted. Only 23 percent had been planted in the last report.
The planting is now eight days ahead of last year and right on the normal annual pace. Soybean planting is now 20 percent complete, with planting just two days behind the average. Iowa State University Extension Agronomist, Paul Kassel, is based in Spencer and covers an area from Dickenson County to Sac County over to Hancock and Winnebago counties. Kassel says that area’s corn and soybean planting is right on time. “Most of the corn is planted. I’d say as of last week, ninety-nine percent of it is planted — a little bit to go here and there,” Kassel says. “In areas probably half of the soybean crop is planted. We’re way ahead of last year on that. So we’re making good progress. Probably our biggest concern is cool weather.”
The cool weather is keeping the seeds from germinating. “We’ve not seen any of that corn emerge. A fair amount of that corn was planted around April 22nd . We’ve not seen that corn emerge yet. We’re hoping for some warm weather to get that going,” Kassel says. The state crop report shows only 9 percent of the corn has emerged — which is 20 percentage points less than average.
Kassel says soil moisture is still a concern as things move ahead. “Subsoil levels are lower than they have been for several years,” according to Kassel. “We all know what happened last year. We started out low and had that excessive rain in May. So we’re hoping that doesn’t happen. We’re hoping for a little more moderate rainfall this year.” The U.S.D.A. report says northwest Iowa is the driest area of the state with almost one-third of topsoil reported as very short or short of moisture. Across the state topsoil moisture levels are rated one percent very short, 10 percent short, 74 percent adequate and 15 percent surplus.