Regional Crop Update: April 20 - April 28, 2020

April 28, 2020 1:38 PM
Blog Post

The past week provided a big window for fieldwork ranging from tillage and fertilizer applications to spraying and planting across the state. According to the April 26th USDA Crop Progress Report, approximately 39% of the corn and 9% of the soybeans in the state of Iowa have been planted. ISU Extension field agronomists share what they are seeing and hearing around the state for field conditions and planting progress.  

Northwest Iowa

Paul Kassel (Region 2): “Corn and soybean planting occurred at a near record pace in much of my area. I would estimate that 75% of the corn crop is planted and that 35% of the soybean crop is planted. Farmers report that both the corn and soybean crop was planted into very good soil conditions. Recent rainfall has been very scattered.  In fact, a few farmers report a need for some rainfall.  Dry soil conditions and a need for rainfall in April is a real departure from the 2018 and 2019 spring seasons.”

Corn seed placed in moisture and good soil conditions in NW Iowa. Photo courtesy of Paul Kassel.

North Central Iowa

Angie Rieck-Hinz (Region 3): “Planting progress is off to an exceptional start in the counties I cover. Monday’s crop report showed NC Iowa at 54% of the corn and 9% of the soybeans planted, and central Iowa was at 45% of the corn and 9% of the soybeans planted. My best guess is planting progress in my nine counties is more like 75% on corn and 25% on beans. Many farmers are done planting and have commented “this is the best planting conditions we have had in two years.” Others have commented we need a rain. As I write this, we had showers move through this morning (4/28/2020), but at this time it does not seem we have had any significant rainfall amounts. I have not seen any crops emerged yet, but I have heard there is some corn spiking from the earliest planting dates. The only issues shared to date have been about concerns with nitrogen volatilization from urea or UAN solutions that were surface applied and not incorporated.”

Northeast Iowa

Terry Basol (Region 4): “For my part of NE Iowa, this past week has provided a good opportunity for field operations, including the start of planting. Soil temperatures started off cool, but by the end of last week were past 50 degrees F at the 4-inch depth according to the ISU Mesonet. The first part of last week allowed for a lot of field preparation to occur with dry fertilizer and nitrogen applications as well as herbicide applications. Towards the latter part of last week, more planters could be seen out in fields. According to Monday's USDA Crop Progress Report, growers in NE and NC Iowa have 28% and 54% of the corn acres planted, respectively, as of April 26th.  Also, 20% of the oats have emerged in the NE quadrant of the state.” 

Southwest and West Central

Mike Witt (Region 6): “The theme for the week in WC Iowa is plant, plant, spray, and plant. According to the USDA reports, my contacts, and general observations, farmers in western Iowa are around 45% done planting their corn crops and 20% done with soybeans. The table below, which was adapted from the April 26th USDA Iowa Crop Progress Report, shows a summary of crop progress for WC Iowa. Not all farmers in the area are at the same planting progress with some farmers being further for each crop while others have not turned a planter wheel. These differences are common and are all dependent on individual farmers management plans and decisions.  However, with this increased planting progress, farmers are going into this season with a leg up on previous years for having crops in the ground. Other observations to note would be spring reseeding of pastures and other grasses mixes is underway. Field conditions have been good to get these planted. Cover crops have also taken off this week with the adequate moisture and warm temperatures. Make sure you plan ahead for your termination window on these fields and leave plenty of time to accomplish your goals. Finally, make sure to stay safe and plant to your field conditions. Not all fields, equipment and farmers are created equal, so know what you can and cannot do in order to have a successful start to the year.”

Crop progress for WC Iowa
Table adapted April 26th Iowa Crop Progress & Condition Report.


West Central Iowa Crop Progress







Corn Planted





Oats Planted





Oats Emerged





Soybeans Planted





Aaron Saeugling (Region 10): “Progress in Southwest Iowa is rolling along. We did receive variable rainfall late last week and over the weekend in some locations. Over the last week, farmers have been busy planting corn and soybeans. My estimate is we have 50% of the corn planted and around 25% of the soybeans in this part of the state. Soil conditions are better than in years past. Pasture and hay conditions are poor to good from cool weather and in some locations lack of a nice warm rainfall. With the current conditions and weather forecast, I expect another big planting week.”

Central Iowa

Meaghan Anderson (Region 7): “Last week was a big one for fieldwork in central Iowa. The USDA Crop Progress Report says central Iowa has 45% of corn planted and 9% of soybeans planted; I estimate both are higher than that from what I’ve seen. Crops are getting into good moisture still, but most farmers I have visited with would appreciate the rainfall anticipated today and a small break after more than 7 days straight of fieldwork. Keep an eye out for emergence of some of the earliest planted corn and soybeans in the near future; these stands will need to be evaluated and fields monitored for loss due to imbibitional chilling. Phone calls and messages in the last week have been primarily about identifying and managing mystery plants (Canada thistle, for one) and soil testing."

Dust flying behind a planter in Dallas County on 4/25/2020. Photo courtesy of Meaghan Anderson.

East Central, Southeast, and South Central:

Rebecca Vittetoe (Region 8): “This past week was a big week for fieldwork. Planters really started rolling last Monday (4/20/2020), and according to Monday's USDA Crop Progress Report, about 14% of corn and 9% of soybeans in EC Iowa have been planted and 32% of corn and 10% of soybeans in SE Iowa. I would say that from what I’ve seen and heard, some areas in the ten counties I cover are likely closer to 60% of the corn planted and 10-15% of soybeans planted. Common questions this past week have been on soil temperature, planting considerations, weed identification, and early season scouting.”

Corn planted on 4/20/2020 in Washington County that had accumulated approximately 54 growing degree days (GDDs) a week after it was planted. It typically takes  90-120 GDDs from planting for corn to emerge. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Vittetoe.

Virgil Schmitt (Region 9): “Rainfall in the last week has generally been light with under one inch of precipitation reported nearly everywhere in the counties I cover. The weather allowed a great deal of field activity this past week from tillage and fertilizing to spraying and planting. I estimate that about 25% of the corn is planted, with a higher percent planted roughly south of Highway 92 and a lower percent roughly north of Highway 92. On the soybean side, I estimate about 5% of the soybeans have been planted, again with a lower percent north of Highway 92 and higher percent south. Questions last week tended to focus on planting issues, herbicide application issues, and insect (Black Cutworm and True Armyworm) moth flights. Insect information can be found here."

Rainfall totals over the last week as of 4/28/2020. Source:

Check out the map below to find your local ISU Extension field agronomist and find their contact information here!


Rebecca Vittetoe Field Agronomist in EC Iowa

Rebecca Vittetoe is an extension field agronomist in east central Iowa. Educational programs are available for farmers, agribusiness, pesticide applicators, and certified crop advisors.

Areas of expertise include agronomy, field crop production and management of corn, soybeans, and...