Farmers Catch Weather Break, But Crops Still Need Moisture

By George Ford, Reporter

DES MOINES, Iowa - Iowa farmers enjoyed a reprieve from the hot weather with cooler temperatures last week, but the state's corn and soybean continue to lag in maturity, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Crops are still in need of additional precipitation, especially in western Iowa, which received the least amount of rain last week. There was an average of 5.9 days suitable statewide for fieldwork.

Forty-nine percent of topsoil was in the adequate and surplus moisture categories, according to the USDA, an increase of 6 percent from the previous week. Topsoil moisture levels were rated 15 percent very short, 36 percent short, 47 percent adequate and 2 percent surplus.

Last week's rain was not significant enough to affect subsoil moisture ratings, which continued to decline.

Sixty percent of subsoil was in the adequate and surplus categories, down 6 percent points from previous week. Subsoil moisture levels were rated 8 percent very short, 32 percent short, 58 percent adequate and 2 percent surplus.

Seventy-four percent of the corn crop has tasseled, far behind last year's 99 percent and the five-year average of 88 percent. Half of the corn crop was silking, lagging behind last year's 96 percent and the normal 77 percent.

The USDA rated corn condition as 4 percent very poor, 11 percent poor, 32 percent fair, 41 percent good and 12 percent excellent.

Sixty-three percent of the soybean crop was blooming, well behind last year's 92 percent and the five-year average of 83 percent. Pods were being set on 14 percent of the soybean crop, trailing last year's 54 percent and the normal 43 percent.

The USDA rated soybean condition as 3 percent very poor, 9 percent poor, 35 percent fair, 41 percent good and 12 percent excellent.

On a more positive note, the USDA reported the second cutting of alfalfa was 75 percent complete, only 2 percent behind normal. Hay condition was rated at 1 percent very poor, 8 percent poor, 31 percent fair, 48 percent good and 12 percent excellent.

At the Fort Atkinson Hay Auction, 41 consignors offered 55 loads on Wednesday with a load of fourth crop big squares bringing the top price of $305 per ton. There was only a limited amount of bedding offered along with several loads of oats hay that sold well.

A majority of the sale Wednesday involved grinding and utility type of hay with the better quality showing some strength.
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