Crop conditions steady as harvest begins

USDA lowers expectations for Iowa’s corn production this year

By: - September 19, 2022 4:49 pm

A farmer harvests corn near Slater, Iowa on Oct. 17, 2020. (Photo by Perry Beeman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

With the state’s corn harvest underway, about 64% of the crop is rated good or excellent, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report on Monday.

That’s better than what the state’s corn was rated last year at this time — when it was 58% good or excellent — but the USDA predicts average yields to be slightly lower this year.

Overall drought conditions were worse last year, but the state’s corn crop was salvaged by timely rains.

About 2% of the state’s corn has been harvested so far this year, the USDA said.

The conditions of the state’s soybeans remained steady from last week at 63% good or excellent. That’s slightly better than last year, but the USDA also predicts soybean production will be reduced this year in Iowa.

Drought conditions have continued to worsen, with a large area of southeast Iowa now in “extreme” drought, the second-worst classification of the U.S. Drought Monitor.

As a whole, the state is the driest it’s been in nearly a year. There were areas of southern Iowa that had substantial rainfall this past weekend — Pella had a total of 4.2 inches of rain last week — but warm and dry conditions are expected to persist.

“Despite widespread rainfall over the weekend, we anticipate unseasonably warm and dry weather will continue through the end of September, setting up ideal conditions as harvest activities ramp up,” said Mike Naig, the state’s agriculture secretary.

The statewide average temperature was more than 4 degrees warmer than normal last week, State Climatologist Justin Glisan said in his weekly report. Average rainfall was about 18% less than what is normally expected this time of year.

As the drought has worsened, federal agriculture officials are less optimistic about the state’s corn yields. A recent USDA report projected average corn yields to be 200 bushels per acre, which is less than its prediction last month of 205. Total corn production in Iowa is projected to be 2.4% lower than last year — which had record-high yields — but the state will still produce more corn than any other.

USDA projections for soybeans in the September report were rosier than they were a month ago. The average soybean yield for Iowa is predicted to be 59 bushels per acre, an increase of one from the August projection. Still, total soybean production would be about 4.9% less than last year.

Iowa is second in soybean production behind Illinois, where production is expected to surpass 2021.

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register. His investigative work exposing police misconduct has notched several state and national awards. He is a longtime trustee of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, which fights for open records and open government. He is a lifelong Iowan and has lived mostly in rural western parts of the state.

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