Dry weather stresses Iowa’s crops

images (6) Iowa’s corn crop deteriorated under dry weather last week, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture lowering its good to excellent rating for Iowa’s corn crop from 63 percent a week ago to 59 percent for the week ended Sunday.

Nationally, the good to excellent rating for the corn crop fell from 57 percent last week to 54 percent on Monday.

The good to excellent rating for the Iowa soybean crop rose from 63 percent to 64 percent in the last week. But the USDA still expressed concern about dry conditions during the crucial bean pod filling stage in August.

“Most of the state would really like to receive some rain to help bean fill and relieve stress on other crops,” the USDA said in its report.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said “dry weather and destructive storms are continuing to affect crop development and cause concern for farmers as harvest is quickly approaching.”

Iowa’s crops have been stressed first by the hottest July weather since 1955 and then by five consecutive weeks of below-average rainfall.

State climatologist Harry Hillaker said several areas of Iowa, most notably southeast and central Iowa, now are classified as drought-stricken. Much of the rest of Iowa is categorized as “abnormally dry.”

Hillaker said Iowa’s statewide average precipitation was 0.73 inches last week, while normal for the week is 0.93 inches. This was the fifth consecutive week of less than normal rainfall.

Last week the publishing firm Pro Farmer estimated the U.S. corn crop this year at 148 bushels per acre, down from the USDA estimate of 153 bushels. Pro Farmer said Iowa’s yield would be 164 bushels per acre, down from the 177 bushels predicted by the USDA.

Iowa’s corn crop yielded 165 bushels per acre last year and 182 bushels per acre in 2009. Iowa is the nation’s largest corn producing state, accounting for about 18 to 20 percent of the U.S. crop.

For soybeans, Pro Farmer said the national yield would be 41 bushels per acre, down from 43 bushels per acre by the USDA.

On the Chicago Board of Trade Monday, corn rose 3 cents per bushel to $7.56 and soybeans climbed 23 cents per bushel to $14.38.

Traders said soybean prices were supported by the expectation that continued high corn prices into 2011 will cause further shifts in acres from soybeans to corn.


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