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2019 Iowa crop progress review
January 3, 2020

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USDA's review of the 2019 crop year

Iowa saw a historically wet spring with rain and snow through the first half of April delaying fieldwork and planting activities. Precipitation throughout May and into June kept field conditions wet making it a difficult start to the 2019 growing season for farmers throughout the State.

Planting of corn was nearly complete by June 16 with 98 percent of the expected crop in the ground, over two weeks behind the 5-year average.

Soybean planting continued through the first week of July and was also over two weeks behind average. After a rainy start to the season, precipitation slowed down and fields began to dry up.

The weeks ending July 7 through September 1 averaged 5.5 days suitable for fieldwork. During this time, areas of Iowa were rated as D1 moderate drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Due to late planting, crop development remained behind average throughout the season. Iowa farmers were able to start on corn and soybean harvest in late September but were hindered by rain and snow creating wet field conditions. Soybean harvest surpassed last year during the week ending October 20, which marked the only time this season a crop was ahead of the 2018 season.

Farmers across the state also dealt with propane shortages slowing corn harvest due to the high moisture content of the crop and the need to dry it down. By early December only a few areas of the state had reports of crops remaining to be harvested.

Corn

Corn planting was on par during the month of April; however, planting was then limited as early May brought consistent rain. By May 19, 70 percent of the corn crop was planted, nine days behind the 5-year average.

Planting progress remained behind average and was not complete until the end of June. Delays in planting and cooler than normal temperatures caused emergence to lag behind average. Corn was almost fully emerged by June 30, over 2 weeks behind average.

Corn silking was virtually complete by August 25, 15 days behind average.

Ninety-seven percent of corn had reached the dough stage or beyond by September 22, also over two weeks behind average. Ninety-seven percent of corn was at or beyond the dent stage by October 13, 17 days behind average.

Corn began reaching maturity by the first week of September and remained behind average throughout the stage. Corn for grain harvest got off to a late start and by September 29 only 2 percent of the crop had been harvested, 11 days behind average. Drier conditions in the weeks ending November 3 and November 10 allowed Iowa farmers to harvest 38 percent of their corn for grain to reach 64 percent, but progress still remained behind average. Corn harvested for grain was nearly complete at 95 percent on December 8. Corn condition started the season at a season low 51 percent good to excellent. The crop gradually improved and finished with a season high rating of 67 percent good to excellent on November 3. Moisture of corn being harvested was reported at 21 percent as harvest began and gradually fell to 19 percent by the final weeks of harvest.

Soybeans

A wet spring delayed planting of soybeans throughout the state. Planting began in late April, but planting progress was hindered by rain throughout the month of May and into June. No week in May saw more than 3 days suitable for fieldwork. By June 2, just 41 percent of the soybean crop was planted, 18 days behind the 5-year average. This was the smallest percent of soybeans planted by June 2 since 1993. Soybean planting would continue into July.

Seventeen percent of the crop had emerged by June 2, compared with the average of 63 percent. Nearly all of the crop emerged by July 14, over two weeks behind average. By July 28, 65 percent of soybeans had started to bloom and 13 percent of the crop was setting pods, both nearly two weeks behind average.

Leaves turning color got off to a late start and neared completion at 98 percent on October 20, over 2 weeks behind average. Harvest began slowly in late September, and remained behind the 5-year average through completion. During the 2 weeks from October 13 through October 27 Iowa farmers harvested nearly half of the soybean crop, reaching 66 percent harvested. Soybean harvest was nearly complete at 98 percent on December 1.

Crop conditions fluctuated between 60 to 65 percent good to excellent throughout the growing season. The final crop condition rating of the season was rated 65 percent good to excellent on October 20.

Oats

Oat seeding did not begin until early April due to wet field conditions. By the end of the first week of April planting progress was 9 days behind the 5-year average. However, progress picked up and caught up to the average by the end of April. Seeding was nearly complete by June 2 at 98 percent. The oat crop was almost fully emerged by June 16, over two weeks behind average.

Oats headed remained around 1 week behind average during the entire stage. Oats turning color started out slow but neared average by July 28 at 94 percent complete. On July 21, 12 percent of oats for grain had been harvested, 9 days behind average.

By August 18, nearly all oats had been harvested for grain at 97 percent complete statewide, equal to average. Oat condition began at a season high 66 percent good to excellent, and fluctuated less than 5 percentage points throughout the growing season. The last rating of the season came in at 65 percent good to excellent.

Alfalfa

The first cutting of alfalfa hay got off to a slow start and reached 35 percent complete by June 9, over 1 week behind the 5-year average.

The crop condition peaked during the week ending June 23 with 66 percent of the state's hay rated good to excellent. The first cutting was nearly complete by July 14, with 33 percent of the second cutting also complete. Ninety-six percent of the second cutting was complete by August 18, 6 days behind average.

The third cutting of alfalfa got off to a late start with only 2 percent of the crop harvested by July 28, nearly 2 weeks behind average. The third cutting remained behind average with frequent rains that kept farmers from harvesting due to wet field conditions and the threat of rain. The last crop condition rating of the season rated 57 percent good to excellent on August 25. By October 20, nearly all of the third cutting of alfalfa had been harvested at 97 percent complete statewide, almost 3 weeks behind average.

Hay

Pasture growth was slow to begin due to persistent cold, wet weather. Pastures had plenty of moisture as rains continued through May. By June 30, 70 percent of the state's pastures were in good to excellent condition, which was a season high. Pasture conditions began to decline and by August 18 condition ratings hit a season low with just 42 percent rated good to excellent. Most of the pastures' regrowth had gone dormant with below average temperatures in late October. The last rating of the season showed 48 percent good to excellent on October 27.

The Crop Progress and Condition Report is made possible by the dedication of the many farmers, FSA, NRCS, Extension, and agribusiness personnel who provide information each week.

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