Crop Condition Declines on Heat, Lack of Significant Rainfall

By George Ford, Reporter

The leaves of corn stalks turn upward to collect more water when it comes, on a farm west of Center Point, Iowa, on Tuesday, July 11, 2012. Much of the midwest is in a moderate to severe drought. (Nikole Hanna/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Kayleigh Milas

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A hot week without significant rainfall in much of the state expanded drought conditions and led to additional stress for Iowa's corn and soybean crops.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday said topsoil moisture levels were rated 52 percent very short, 33 percent short, 15 percent adequate and zero percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 41 percent very short, 40 percent short, 19 percent adequate and zero percent surplus.

Topsoil moisture was considered very short on over 50 percent of the acreage in the southern two-thirds of Iowa.

Corn condition declined and was rated 9 percent very poor, 19 percent poor, 37 percent fair, 31 percent good and 4 percent excellent. With nearly all the corn crop in or past the milk stage, 86 percent of the crop reached the dough stage, trailing the normal 93 percent.

Fifty-four percent of the crop has reached the dent stage, 24 percent behind normal. Only 5 percent of corn was mature, just over two weeks behind normal.

Soybean condition also declined and was rated 10 percent very poor, 20 percent poor, 37 percent fair, 30 percent good and 3 percent excellent. With almost the entire soybean crop setting pods, 12 percent has begun turning color and some of the earliest planted beans have begun to drop leaves.

Pasture condition continued to deteriorate, and was rated 30 percent very poor, 32 percent poor, 29 percent fair, 8 percent good and 1 percent excellent. The harvest of third cutting alfalfa was 84 percent complete, slightly ahead of the normal 82 percent, but still behind last year’s 100 percent.

The U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday showed severe drought spreading over more counties in the state. Thirty-two percent of the state is enduring severe drought and 63 percent is considered in moderate drought.

Much of the eastern two-thirds of Iowa received no measurable rain during the week. The statewide average precipitation was only 0.04 inch while normal for the week is 0.84 inches.

A drier week has not been recorded since mid January.

The USDA will update its corn and soybean production forecasts on Thursday. The hot, dry weather with little significant rainfall forecast for the next 10 days is prompting speculation that the USDA will reduce its yield estimates.

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