SIOUX CITY | A splash of rain in parts of Siouxland on Wednesday provided some relief to area farmers after a recent heat wave left crops across Iowa visibly stressed.
In its latest crop report released Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service noted statewide temperatures were above average and rainfall varied last week.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey indicated this wasn’t ideal for producers in his weekly comments on the NASS report.
“The hot and humid weather created stress for both crops and livestock last week, particularly in areas that have missed the recent rains,” Northey said.
Joel De Jong, an Iowa State University Extension field agronomist, said he saw multiple instances of plants looking visibly stressed from the recent severe weather. In recent weeks, the heat index rose above 100 degrees.
He also said Tuesday and Wednesday's rainfall was spotty in his nine-county Northwest Iowa coverage area. De Jong pointed out that some areas were receiving suitable amounts of rain while others remained dry or received low amounts.
A firsthand example he gave was how his rain gauge in Le Mars, Iowa, collected about two-thirds of an inch while an associate of his in Sioux County only collected about two-tenths of an inch.
Despite the abundant heat and lack of moisture throughout most of the growing season, both this year's corn and soybean crops seem to be doing OK.
Monday’s NASS report indicated that 74 percent of Iowa’s corn crop has reached the silking stage, which is four days behind last year but two days ahead of the five-year average. A week prior, only 37 percent of corn had reached the silking stage.
On the flip side, corn conditions have deteriorated slightly. Two percent of corn is considered in very poor condition; 6 percent poor; 24 percent fair; 55 percent good and 13 percent excellent.
Nearly three-fourths of the soybean crop was blooming, with 30 percent of soybeans setting pods, a day ahead of average. Soybean conditions also dropped slightly with 62 percent rated good to excellent, a one percent drop from the week prior.
DeJong doesn’t consider this to be a typical growing season due to the heat and dryness. The most recent comparison he can think of is 2012, a period when most of the region was under drought.
“We are a shade better than that,” he said.
There does appear to be some relief in the forecast, according to Mike Gillespie, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service office in Sioux Falls.
He said things look to stay dry through the weekend; however, he expects cooler temperatures.
“Cooler than we’ve seen recently,” Gillespie said Wednesday. “Today will be in the upper 70s and kind of 80-85 through the middle of next week, so running about 10 to 15 degrees cooler than what we’ve seen.”
Gillespie said the lower temperatures also should help producers by curtailing evaporation a bit.
Additionally, he noted some parts of the region should see rainfall ranging from a quarter-inch to an inch in places next week.
“It would have been nice to see a widespread one to one and a half (inches) but anything we can get right now — even that quarter inch will buy you a day or two — as far as the evaporation goes with these lower temperatures coming,” he said.