OTTUMWA — Iowa farmers have begun planting this year's corn crop, according to this week's crop conditions report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Planting this spring has been slow, with colder temperatures slowing the ground's thaw, and torrential rain causing more delays. The crop closest to being fully planted is oats, but that's still less than halfway finished. Last year at this point the oat crop was 97 percent planted, and the five-year average is 79 percent.
State Climatologist Harry Hillaker wrote in the report that the statewide rain average for April is 6.52 inches. That breaks the old record by more than a quarter inch. The rainfall has been uneven, with areas in southeast Iowa at more than double the month's usual totals while northwestern Iowa holds at nearly normal.
That rainfall has gone a considerable distance toward erasing the drought. Southeast Iowa is entirely out of the drought and nearly 70 percent of the topsoil is now considered to have adequate moisture. Subsoil moisture has also recovered, with only 15 percent considered short or very short.