Planting season underway

Tractors and planters, like this one driven by Jason Eubanks in rural Wapello County over the weekend, were found running throughout the state of Iowa throughout the past week as drier conditions allowed farmers to have a very productive week for the 2020 planting season.

OTTUMWA — One week after a blast of winter put farmers in southern Iowa behind schedule, a week filled with spring-like conditions allowed significant progress to made in the 2020 planting season

Although most of Iowa received spotty rains, there were 5.3 days suitable for field work during the past week, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. In contrast, it was mid-June before Iowa farmers had a week with 5.3 days suitable for fieldwork in 2019 according to the report posted by the United States Department of Agriculture.

“Farmers across Iowa have taken advantage of the warmer weather and widespread dry conditions over the past week,” said Mike Naig, Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture, said. “The state saw a substantial increase in corn and soybean acres planted, going from two percent last week to 39 percent with corn progress and the first nine percent for soybean progress.”

Topsoil moisture levels rated one percent very short, five percent short, 85 percent adequate and nine percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated two percent short, 87 percent adequate and 11 percent surplus with no percentages of very short levels.

All told, Iowa farmers planted over one-third of the expected corn crop during the week ending April 26. Soybean planting is already 10 days ahead of last year’s pace and one entire week ahead of the average planting season.

Only 20 percent of Iowa’s expected oat crop remains to be planted, with just 22 percent of the oat crop emerged. Pasture condition rated just one percent very poor, seven percent poor, 28 percent fair, 54 percent good and 10 percent excellent.

Cattle have been moved onto pastures in some areas. Warmer and drier conditions improved livestock conditions.

Iowa continued to experience unseasonably dry conditions even though multiple disturbances brought measurable rainfall to much of the state. Rainfall departures of up to an inch were reported across a majority of Iowa.

Average temperatures rebounded from the previous reporting period with warmer conditions reported across the state’s western two-thirds and near to slightly below average conditions in eastern Iowa. The statewide average temperature was 52.6 degrees, 0.50 degrees below normal.

Whether planting season continues to progress without disruption will depend on the final rainfall totals coming from the storm systems that pass through the state throughout the first half of the week.

With weather shaping up heading into the weekend, a majority of the state’s projected corn crop could be in the field heading into the first full week of May.

Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

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