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Iowa crops could use a drink

  • According to the USDA’s Iowa Crop Progress and Condition Report for the week ending Aug. 2, drought conditions continue to spread across the state of Iowa. There is a slight chance of rain through the weekend and into early next week, and it might be just what the doctor ordered for area farmers. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • According to the USDA’s Iowa Crop Progress and Condition Report for the week ending Aug. 2, drought conditions continue to spread across the state of Iowa. There is a slight chance of rain through the weekend and into early next week, and it might be just what the doctor ordered for area farmers. (Press photo James Grob.)

By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

There is a slight chance of rain through the weekend and into early next week, and it might be just what the doctor ordered for area farmers.

“If we could wave a magic wand and just get an inch or two of rain, that would be great, it would really help,” said Terry Basol, field agronomist and and crop specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, who works out of Nashua. “It is a little dry. We definitely could use a nice drink of water within the next week — the sooner the better.”

According to the USDA’s Iowa Crop Progress and Condition Report for the week ending Aug. 2, drought conditions continue to spread across the state.

The USDA said that producers are seeing the crop ratings drop from the mid-80th percentile to the low 70s. Corn and soybean conditions have fallen to 73 percent good to excellent as topsoil moisture in Iowa is averaging 14 percent very short and 33 percent short. Northwest, west central and central Iowa are all reporting topsoil moisture supplies in the short to very short categories.

“While spotty thunderstorms brought much needed rainfall to parts of the western Iowa drought region, other areas were not as fortunate and drought conditions persist,” Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said, in response to the report. “As we begin August, cooler temperatures and chances of thunderstorms are expected over the short-term, which would be beneficial to moisture-stressed corn and soybeans.”

Basol said that northeast and north central Iowa are currently sitting in an “abnormally dry area.”

“The corn is now filling in the dry weight into the kernels, so we’d like the least amount of stress as possible at this time,” he said.

Basol said that other than the lack of moisture, crops in the area are doing well, and both corn and soybeans are about where they should be.

“As far as crop progress, everything is developing nicely,” he said. “We got the crops planted in a nice, timely manner in the spring.”

According to the report, corn silking or beyond reached 95 percent, two weeks ahead of last year and five days ahead of the five-year average. Corn in the dough stage or beyond reached 44 percent, which is 10 days ahead of last year and four days ahead of the average.

Soybean blooming is at 91 percent, two weeks ahead of last year and six days ahead of average, while pod setting is now at 70 percent, 16 days ahead of last year and six days ahead of the five-year average.

Basol said that there are no other major concerns for farmers at this time. He said that they should continue to scout and monitor crops for development of disease and insects such as grasshoppers and Japanese beetles, and farmers might have to administer fungicides or insecticides.

“As we get dryer, insects could become a problem that could warrant a treatable application,” Basol said. “We haven’t seen any alarming levels of soybean aphids yet, but there might be some isolated cases.”

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