Crops get much needed drink overnight




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DUNKERTON, Iowa — Northeast Iowa crops could use a drink – and got one this morning.

Monday’s weekly U.S. Department of Agriculture Crops and Weather Report said crop conditions improved in areas that received timely rains last week and deteriorated in areas that didn’t.

Relief came locally today. Thunderstorms descended upon the Cedar Valley at about 4 a.m. today. But the spigot won’t stay on for long.

A 60 percent chance of rain continued through the day today and 30 percent tonight, according to the National Weather Service. The rest of the week is expected to be dry with temperatures in the mid- to high 80s.

Any rain is welcome at this point, said Jim Fawcett, Iowa State University Extension crop specialist in east central and southeast Iowa. Moisture is needed for soybeans to fill pods properly and for corn kernels to put on weight, he said.

"A lot of the state could use a nice shower, particularly eastern and southeast Iowa. August rains are critical to yields, and we haven’t had them," Fawcett said.

According to the report, Waterloo had .07 inches of rain last week.

Since April 1, the metro area has received 14.79 inches, 4.41 inches below normal.

A full soil moisture profile at the beginning of the growing season has sustained crops to this point, but supplies are dwindling.

The report said topsoil statewide is rated 15 percent very short, 35 percent short and 47 percent adequate, with a 3 percent surplus.

Subsoil moisture is rated 10 percent very short, 33 percent short and 55 percent adequate, with a 2 percent surplus.

Over three-fourths of Iowa’s corn is in the dough stage, ahead of the average of 65 percent. Forty-one percent is dented.

The corn condition declined slightly to 4 percent very poor, 8 percent poor, 25 percent fair, 48 percent good and 15 percent excellent.

"Corn is tipped back (kernels not filled out to the end of the ear) quite a bit. The crop isn’t as good as it looks from the road," Rathe said.

Pods are being set in 92 percent of soybean fields, the report said. The crop condition declined slightly to 4 percent very poor, 8 percent poor, 22 percent fair, 49 percent good and 17 percent excellent.

The USDA predicts yields in Northeast Iowa will be the best in the state, averaging 188 bushels per acre for corn and 53.5 bushels per acre for soybeans.

"We won’t realize that potential without some rain," Fawcett said.

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