Iowa farmers received a jump start on corn planting last week with a streak of sunny, dry weather days. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service Weekly Crop Progress Report issued on Monday, 13 percent or 13.9 million acres of Iowa’s corn crop has been planted. A feat significantly ahead of the five-year average of 3 percent planted by mid-April. Rain throughout the state this week hampered some progress although with sunshine in the forecast for this weekend has many farmers remaining optimistic.
“Corn planting took off at the end of the week with favorable conditions,” said Iowa Corn Growers Association Director Bruce Rohwer, a farmer from O’Brien County. “In driving across Northwest Iowa, I noticed more anhydrous going on corn stalks which tends to indicate that the anticipated increase in corn acres may be accurate.”
In April 2015, corn planting in Iowa began at a normal pace, but jumped ahead of the average pace as April turned into May. According to NASS, a majority of the state’s corn had been planted by May 3, with 54 percent of the corn crop planted within that week. By the end of May, planting progress was nearly complete and emergence was not far behind with 90 percent of the corn crop emerged.
Planting early can give the corn plants time to mature before they face the stress of the summer heat and can lead to increased yields come harvest. According to Iowa State University Extension, the optimum dates for planting corn range from mid-April to the end of April in north central and northeast Iowa with the first or second week in May being ideal for other parts of the state. Yields drop off considerably across Iowa for corn planted past mid-May.
“In Eastern Iowa we are not as far along as other parts of the state due to variable weather conditions,” stated Iowa Corn Promotion Board Director Bob Bowman, a farmer from Clinton County. “We are just getting started.”
Agronomists say you shouldn't plant corn until the soil temperature is 50 degrees Fahrenheit at the 4-inch depth. Rain showers this week may warm up soil temps even more. According to NASS, last week’s topsoil moisture levels rated 1 percent very short, 10 percent short, 84 percent adequate and 5 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 3 percent short, 91 percent adequate and 6 percent surplus. Iowa State provides the three day forecast and soil temperatures by county.
“Every farmer looks at rain from their own perspective,” said Bowman. “If you are done planting, you’re happy because it will help get the corn growing, if you aren’t, it’s just another delay.”
The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB), works to develop and defend markets, fund research, and provide education about corn and corn products. The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) is an 8,000-member strong grassroots-driven organization, headquartered in Johnston, Iowa, serving members across the state, and lobbying on agricultural issues on behalf of its farmer members to create opportunities for long-term Iowa corn grower profitability. For more information, visit iowacorn.org.