Northey hopes forecasted precipitation materializes as spring planting approaches.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today commented on the Iowa Crops and Weather report released by the USDA National Agricultural Statistical Service. The report is released weekly from April through October.

"Farmers are busy getting ready for spring planting, which is an exciting time of the year," Northey said. "Much of the state remains quite dry, so hopefully the precipitation forecast for this week will materialize. Farmers are willing to wait another week or two to plant if it means soil moisture levels are being recharged."

The weekly report is also available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship's website at or on USDA's site at The report summary follows here:


The first week of April saw warmer temperatures begin to make field work possible for some farmers. For the week ending April 7, 2013, there was an average of 2.5 days suitable for fieldwork across the state, mostly later in the week as temperatures warmed. In northern Iowa, frost was still leaving the ground. Fieldwork was more prevalent in southern Iowa, where farmers tilled, applied fertilizer and seeded oats. Farmers across the state were also busy preparing machinery for the upcoming planting season.

With limited precipitation during the week, soil moisture continued to be a concern. Topsoil moisture levels rated 16 percent very short, 40 percent short, 42 percent adequate and 2 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 43 percent very short, 42 percent short and 15 percent adequate.

Oat planting was 11 percent complete, well behind last year's 73 percent and the five-year average of 31 percent.

Pasture and range condition rated 31 percent very poor, 35 percent poor, 28 percent fair and 6 percent good. It was reported that livestock conditions were good. Due to the dry conditions there has been less mud than is typical for early spring.


By Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship

Dry and mostly cool weather prevailed across Iowa over the past reporting week. Light snow fell across about the southwest one-third of the state on Sunday night (31st) with some accumulations of an inch or two in west central areas. Otherwise dry weather prevailed until Saturday (6th) when showers and thunderstorms brought scattered light rain to the northeast one-half of Iowa. Much more substantial rain fell, especially across southeast Iowa, on Sunday (7th) night but this will be included in next week's report. Weekly rain totals varied from none over much of central and south central Iowa to 0.28 inches at the Clinton Airport. The statewide average precipitation was only 0.04 inches while normal for the week is 0.65 inches. This was Iowa's driest week since mid-January (12 weeks). Temperatures were well below normal on Monday (1st) and Tuesday (2nd) but slowly climbed above normal by Saturday (6th). Overnight low temperatures were in the teens in some areas on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning with Little Sioux the cold spot at 11 degrees on Monday morning. By the weekend afternoon high temperatures were in the mid to upper 50's north to low to mid 70's south. Highest temperatures were reported on Sunday (7th) afternoon with 76 degrees at Glenwood, Red Oak and Sidney. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged just below normal over the far west to about five degrees below normal across the east. The statewide average temperature was 3.7 degrees below normal. Soil temperatures at the four inch depth averaged in the low 40's north to low 50's south as of Sunday (7th). While the topsoil was thawed, a layer of frozen soil still persisted across parts of northern Iowa at the end of the week from about five to twelve inches below the surface.