Regional Update: April 26 to May 4, 2021

May 4, 2021 3:07 PM
Blog Post

A lot of planting progress was made for both corn and soybeans over the last week. According to the May 3 USDA-NASS Crop Progress Report, approximately 70% of Iowa’s corn crop has been planted and about 40% of the soybean crop. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach field agronomists share reports on what they are seeing and hearing in their respective regions across the state with field conditions and planting progress.

Northwest Iowa

Paul Kassel (Region 2): “Corn planting is mostly complete across much of my area. Soybean planting is likely around 60% complete. Most operations will complete planting corn and soybeans by the end of the week. First planted corn and soybean crops are starting to emerge. Growing Degree Day (GDD) accumulation is around 120 since April 5, the first date for planting in my region. Emergence looks good so far, but farmers and agronomists are encouraged to check fields for crop emergence and stand uniformity. Rainfall or lack of rainfall is a concern as many parts of Buena Vista, Palo Alto, Clay, Dickinson and Emmet counties have had only about 0.3 inch of rain in the past three weeks. Other parts of the area, including parts of Sac, Pocahontas, Kossuth, Hancock and Winnebago counties received some additional rainfall on May 2.”

This Clay County field was planted April 26 and so far has accumulated 90 GDDs since a planting. Photo courtesy of Paul Kassle.

North Central Iowa

Angie Rieck-Hinz (Region 3): “I would venture to say that most of the corn and soybean are planted in NC Iowa. I have seen VE corn in several fields, and it probably won’t be long before we see more. I personally have not seen any emerged soybeans, but Twitter tells me there are some. As corn approaches V1, take some time to scout and evaluate stands and see what might be happening if there are any missing plants. Was it a planter issue? Insect damage? Uneven planting depth? Something else? If you planted corn green into a cereal rye cover crop, you will want to start scouting soon for armyworm feeding and black cutworm injury.  On May 3 when I was checking an alfalfa field, the Predictive Equations for Alfalfa Quality or PEAQ relative feed value was 222.  For more information about PEAQ, please read Estimate First Crop Pre-Harvest Alfalfa Quality in the Field Using PEAQ. Also while scouting this alfalfa field, I found adult alfalfa weevils and alfalfa weevil larvae. Rainfall over NC Iowa on the night of May 2 into the morning of May 3 was highly variable and left most people wishing for more precipitation. Rainfall amounts varied from 0.15 in northern Story County, to 0.9 inches at Fort Dodge and 1.1 in isolated areas north of Clarion. “

Adult alfalfa weevil found in an alfalfa field in NC Iowa. Take time to scout for this pest. Photo courtesy of Angie Rieck-Hinz.

Northeast Iowa

Josh Michel (Region 5): “Dry field conditions have allowed farmers to continue planting without much interruption. Some isolated areas in the northern part of the region received up to 0.75 inches of rain that caused a planting delay of 1 to 2 days. Meanwhile, much of the area along Highway 20 continues to miss any chances of rain. Pastures and alfalfa continue to green up, but limited soil moisture continues to raise some concerns over limited forage growth. Oats are starting to come up and stands look good so far. Recent field calls and questions have included cover crop termination, winter annual weed identification and management, pasture and alfalfa management, corn rootworm management, fertilizer management, and several questions regarding soil moisture conditions.”

Oat field in NE Iowa. Photo courtesy of Josh Michel.

Central Iowa

Meaghan Anderson (Region 7): “Planting progressed in a hurry in central Iowa with the warm, dry weather last week. Farmers carefully evaluated planting depth given the forecast and many planted soybeans in the 2 – 2.5” range to reach moisture rather than lay them in dry soil. Corn and soybeans are just beginning to emerge, and the early corn looks much more even than last week after a few days in the sun and heat. It will soon be time to get some good stand counts and investigate any visible issues, like gaps in stand or abnormal looking plants. In the earliest planted corn, I have seen some leafing out underground. While much of my area missed significant rains, Boone County and part of Story County seemed to be the winners with a good half inch or more of much needed rain Monday. I’ve definitely got my fingers crossed for more rain soon, as some crops are still laying in dry soil waiting for moisture. Weeds are readily visible in some fields now; the most common species I see are woolly cupgrass, velvetleaf, and lambsquarters, but I spotted waterhemp last week as well. Alfalfa has really greened up and is starting to get some height on it. Both alfalfa weevil adults and larvae are present in fields. Keep an eye on our PEAQ website to monitor alfalfa for 1st cut timing. I received calls in the last week about seeding depth for soybean, weed identification, weed management and herbicide options, and cover crop termination.”

Baby waterhemp in a field in Central Iowa. Photo courtesy of Meaghan Anderson.

Southwest Iowa:

Aaron Saeugling (Region 10): “Dry planting conditions in SW Iowa have allowed a rapid pace to planting. Planting conditions are good but a little on the dry side. A much need rainfall would be welcomed by all. Spraying winter annuals has been a challenge this spring due to colder temperatures and extremely windy days. Very little if any crop has emerged yet. Pastures, alfalfa, and hay fields have greened-up but growth is slow due to limited rainfall and cooler temperatures.”  

The cooler temperatures and windy conditions have made it challenging to spray winter annuals like henbit this spring. Photo courtesy of Aaron Sauegling.

East Central, Southeast, and South Central:

Rebecca Vittetoe (Region 8): “Lots of corn and soybeans got planted within the last week. I’d estimate corn planting to be about 65 to 75% complete in my area and soybean planting at about 40% complete. Towards the end of last week I started receiving more questions about planting depth, particularly with soybeans, and getting the seed into consistent moisture. Thankfully most of my counties received some rain on Monday (May 3) this week. Rainfall totals seemed to range from 0.1 to 2 plus inches of rain. The first planted corn and soybeans from a couple weeks ago are just starting to emerge. Forages are looking nice and green, but growth has been slower. In alfalfa, I can find alfalfa weevils (adults and the larvae) and even some aphids. Cover crop termination, weed identification and management, herbicide considerations, scouting for black cutworm and armyworm, and soybean planting depth were common phone calls I received over the last week.”

Soybeans planted April 23 in Washington County starting to emerge. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Vittetoe.

Virgil Schmitt (Region 9): “Rainfall last week in the counties I cover was generally less than 0.1 inch north of I-80 and then progressively increasing south of I-80, with far southeastern Iowa receiving between 1.0 and 1.5 inches of rain. I have received reports of up to 3.0 inches in places in Lee County. In general, temperatures last week in the counties I cover were normal to slightly warmer than normal. Corn planting is about 70% complete and soybean planting is about 40% complete. Cover crop termination, preventive insecticide (army worm and black cutworm) applications, and weed identification were the main topics of conversation last week. Bluegrass and Downey Brome are heading out and apple trees and lilacs are starting to bloom.”

Rainfall totals across the state of Iowa from April 27 to May 3, 2021. Source:

Josh Michel (Region 11): “Scattered showers delivered some much-needed rainfall across most of the region, with some areas receiving up to an inch. The rain may have delayed planting some, but it will definitely help forage growth with pastures and hay fields. Generally, planting has gone very well, and many farmers will soon be finished. Recent field calls and questions have centered on cover crop termination, weed identification and control, soil moisture, fertilizer management, pasture and alfalfa management, and small grains.” 

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...