Capital Clicks

Conditions of Iowa crops decline as they reach maturity

By: - September 11, 2023 4:22 pm

Some livestock producers have sold their animals because of a lack of water and food. (Photo by Jared Strong/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Crop conditions continue to decline in Iowa due to a lack of rainfall and available soil moisture, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report on Monday.

Only 21% of the state’s topsoil has adequate moisture for growing crops. Last week, the average rainfall in Iowa was 0.07 inches, far short of the typical 0.84 inches. The state also averaged about 1.5 degrees warmer than normal.

That contributed to the crop declines. About 46% of the state’s corn crop is rated good or excellent. About 44% of soybeans have those ratings. Those are the lowest percentages of the season.

About 5% of each crop is rated very poor.

“Although areas of Iowa received some rain over the weekend, persistent dryness and expanding drought continue to dominate,” said Mike Naig, the state’s secretary of agriculture. “Hot temperatures and a lack of rain have produced varying crop conditions, which may lead some farmers in pockets of the state to start harvesting earlier than usual.”

The dryness has accelerated corn and soybean maturation. About 38% of the corn has reached maturity, which is nearly a week ahead of normal. About 25% of soybean plants are dropping leaves, which is three days ahead of normal.

Drought conditions that have plagued Iowa for the past three years have worsened in recent weeks and are the worst they’ve been in a decade. More than 91% of the state is suffering from some measure of drought, with the worst dryness in eastern Iowa.

It’s likely that all of the state will have a drought designation by month’s end, according to the federal Climate Prediction Center.

The dryness has been detrimental to livestock pastures, of which about 15% are rated good or excellent.

“Getting water to livestock was a challenge for producers this week, with reports of some producers selling livestock due lack of water and having to feed hay,” the USDA reported.

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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.