It was mostly a dry week with spotty rains throughout the State during the week ending April 21, 2019, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were 4.1 days suitable for fieldwork, which was two more days than the previous week. Warmer temperatures and drier conditions increased fieldwork activities which included anhydrous and fertilizer applications, tillage, seeding oats, and planting corn. Topsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 1 percent short, 75 percent adequate and 24 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 0 percent short, 65 percent adequate and 35 percent surplus.
Forty-eight percent of the expected oat crop has been planted, 6 days ahead of last year but 5 days behind the 5- year average. Less than a quarter of the expected oats have been planted in northwest and north central Iowa, while all the other districts had at least twenty-five percentage point increases in their expected oats planted. Pasture Condition rated 3 percent very poor, 8 percent poor, 36 percent fair, 44 percent good and 9 percent excellent.
Randy Broesder of the Farmers Coop in Forest City says things are looking good for now.
Pastures continue to green gradually, and there were few comments of cattle being turned out to pastures as grazing may hurt the already slow growth. Warmer temperatures have improved livestock conditions and helped dry out feedlots.
Seed sales are progressing as farmers make preparations for planting according to Broesder.
Iowa experienced an unseasonably dry week with temperatures generally above average by a few degrees; eastern Iowa observed near to slightly below average temperatures. Monday (15th) was sunny across Iowa with southerly winds boosting daytime highs into the upper 60s to the lower 70s in the state’s southern half. Warm conditions continued into Tuesday (16th) as a warm front lifted across southern Iowa ahead of a low pressure system.
Highs again reached into the low to mid 70s across southern Iowa, between 12 to 15 degrees above average. Overnight lows into Wednesday (17th) were unseasonably warm, averaging nine degrees above normal; Fort Madison (Lee County) observed 58 degrees, 14 degrees above average. A strong cold front moved through Iowa on Wednesday, firing off isolated severe thunderstorms in central and eastern Iowa. Alleman (Polk County) reported a farm shed destroyed from severe straight-line winds. Large hail was also reported in Marshall and Dubuque counties. Measurable rain fell across much of Iowa with locations in the eastern third reporting totals between 0.20 – 0.60 inches; Cresco (Howard County) observed 0.66 inches while Keokuk (Lee County) reported 0.58 inches.
Temperatures cooled behind the frontal passage on Thursday (18th). Statewide highs were in the 50s with lower 60s reported in central Iowa; these temperatures averaged six degrees below normal. Cascade (Dubuque County) reported 48 degrees, 12 degrees cooler than average. Sunny skies returned for much of Iowa on Friday (19th) and continued into the weekend. Saturday (20th) was warm and pleasant with highs in the low 70s east to low 80s west. Easter Sunday (21st) was the week’s warmest day. Mostly sunny skies prevailed with highs climbing into the low to mid 80s. Statewide precipitation for the week averaged 0.18 inches, well below the normal of 0.96 inches. The week’s high temperature of 87 degrees was reported on the 21st in Clarinda (Page County), Lamoni (Decatur County) and Red Oak (Montgomery County). Cresco (Howard County) and Stanley (Buchanan County) reported a low of 20 degrees on the 15th. Decorah (Winneshiek County) reported the highest rainfall total of the week at 0.77 inches. As of Sunday, four-inch soil temperatures were in the mid to upper 50s statewide.
The average high and low temperatures are fairly close to normal. The average high so far for the month is 54.9 degrees or .6 degrees below the normal of 55.5 degrees. As far as the lows are concerned, the average was 33.6 degrees, which is .2 degrees higher than the normal of 33.4 degrees. Precipitation is behind the normal for the month. Currently, 2.01 inches of precipitation have fallen in the area compared to the normal of 2.58 inches leaving the area .57 of an inch below normal. Weather systems moving into the area this week and next should make up the difference before the end of the month.