Weather delayed much planting for another week.

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.

“The extremely unusual weather last week resulted in little planting progress and now just 8 percent of the corn is in the ground, the least progress at this point since 1995,” Northey said.  “We will need several days of dry weather and warmer temperatures so fields can dry out before farmers can get going again.  Everyone is anxious to get their corn planted, fortunately farmers can make rapid progress when conditions allow.”

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:


Dry and warm weather in the first half of the week ending May 5, 2013 turned to cold and wet weather by mid-week. Temperatures dropped low enough for snowfall to be seen across much of Iowa. Records for both May snowfall and coldest daily high temperature were set in some areas. There was an average of 2.3 days suitable for fieldwork during the week, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Most fieldwork was done early in the week before the turn in weather. Field activities included application of fertilizers and herbicides, tilling and planting.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 1 percent very short, 3 percent short, 59 percent adequate and 37 percent surplus. The precipitation received during the week continued to improve subsoil moisture levels. Subsoil moisture levels rated 4 percent very short, 24 percent short and 63 percent adequate and 9 percent surplus.

Eight percent of Iowa’s corn acreage has been planted compared with 62 percent at this time last year and the five-year average of 56 percent. Although farmers were able to plant some corn before the weather turned mid-week, planting progress is the latest since 1995. Some farmers delayed planting early in the week due to the forecasted snow and cold temperatures. A series of dry days is needed to permit planting to resume. Oat planting was 67 percent complete; at this time last year oat planting was complete. Twenty-three percent of oat acreage has emerged, well behind last year’s 88 percent and the five-year average of 62 percent.

Pasture and range condition rated 10 percent very poor, 20 percent poor, 39 percent fair and 27 percent good and 4 percent excellent. Enough moisture has been received to promote new growth in pastures, but cooler than average temperatures have limited the growth of grass.


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

What a week for weather across Iowa. The reporting period began with unusually warm weather on Monday (29th) and Tuesday (30th). Monday’s highs were in the low 70’s northeast to the mid 80’s southwest and on Tuesday ranged from the upper 60’s northwest to upper 80’s east central. The warmer air brought a few thunderstorms to extreme southeast Iowa on Sunday (28th) night and over northern areas on Monday (29th) morning and again Monday night. Both episodes of storms on Monday brought large hail to some areas with tennis ball size hail reported near Dubuque Monday evening. A cold front slowly moved into the state from the northwest on Tuesday (30th) and finally pushed into Illinois Wednesday night. High temperatures reached the mid 80’s on Wednesday ahead of the front while snow was falling in northwest Iowa with temperatures only in the low 30’s. Snow began in the far northwest early Wednesday morning with moderate to heavy snow falling Wednesday night over west central and north central Iowa. The snow slowly edged further east on Thursday with the heaviest snow falling from south central into north central Iowa on Thursday night and Friday morning. Finally, the storm system began to move back westward with snow persisting over far western Iowa into Saturday afternoon (but with no additional accumulation). Meanwhile, eastern Iowa saw widespread moderate to heavy rainfall. Precipitation intensity generally decreased starting Friday afternoon but there were a few areas of heavier rainfall associated with thunderstorms over east central and northeast Iowa on Friday and Saturday. Warmer and drier air slowly worked there way westward across the state late in the weekend with highs on Sunday (5th) varying from the low 50’s northwest to mid 70’s east central. The week’s snow fall smashed all previous May snowfall records in Iowa. Storm total snowfall reached a May record 13 inches at Osage while the statewide average snowfall of 3.4 inches was nearly triple the previous highest May average set in 1947 (1.2 inches). Precipitation totals varied from 0.89 inches at Estherville to 4.52 inches at Iowa City. The statewide average precipitation was 2.22 inches while normal for the week is 0.98 inches. This was the third week of the past four with unusually heavy precipitation. Temperature extremes over the past reporting week varied from 26 degrees at Sibley on Friday to 89 degrees at Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Stanley on Tuesday. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged from 8 degrees below normal over the northwest to 3 degrees above normal over the far east with a statewide average of 3.7 degrees below normal.