Regional Update for May 6 - May 13, 2019: Rain, Rain, Go Away…

May 14, 2019 2:52 PM
Blog Post

“Rain, rain, go away come again another day.” This nursery rhyme seems to be an appropriate theme song for how the weather has been this spring. The wet weather has been a major challenge for getting any fieldwork completed across the state. According to the most recent USDA-NASS Crop Progress Report, 48% of Iowa's expected corn crop has been planted and 13% of Iowa's expected soybean crop has been planted. 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.

Rainfall totals across the state of Iowa for May 7 to May 14, 2019. Source:

Northwest Iowa

Joel DeJong (Region 1): “In the NW corner of Iowa we are still looking for a good window of opportunity to plant corn. I would estimate that maybe a quarter of the corn is planted in the four counties in the NW corner of the state, with some neighborhoods having almost no seed in the ground. Counties further south have made a lot more progress. Emergence is slow, with some reports of fields nearing 4 weeks without the shoot above ground. Warmer weather this week will help us determine if there is a big issue, but what I have dug still looks like it could make it. Some beans are planted in the southern counties, very few in the northern counties. Forage growth is slow due to the cool, damp weather. Two local alfalfa fields were about 14 inches tall as of May 13."

Plymouth County field planted April 15, emerging three weeks later. Photo by Joel DeJong.

Paul Kassel (Region 2): “A very informal text message survey of planting progress in my area shows that respondents north of Everly, Spirit Lake and Estherville report about 10-20% completion on corn. Respondents around Spencer and north of Storm Lake are about half done with corn planting. The planting pace picks up around Whittemore, Laurens as well as south of Storm Lake and Garner with about 70% of the corn planted. There is corn that has emerged in areas in southern Sac county. Initial corn stands look pretty good, but it should be no surprise that we could use some sun and heat. Growing degree days (GDD’s) stand at 90 for an April 24 planting date and 40 for a May 3 planting date. Those figures are 70 and 40 behind normal, respectively. The soybean planting pace is pretty slow in the northern part of my area; however, most respondents to my text message survey did say that there a few soybean acres planted here and there." 

Farmers are anxious to complete corn planting. Photo by: Paul Kassel.


Northeast Iowa

Terry Basol (Region 4): “Like the rest of the state the cool, wet conditions have challenged planting progress in NE Iowa. We have about 30% of the corn acres planted, with a little higher percentage in my southern counties. The past few days have been favorable, so it’s nice to see progress being made. Soybean acres planted for 2019 are pretty low yet with an estimated 6-7% as of May 12, according to USDA-NASS. The oats that have been seeded in NE Iowa are showing their innate ability to tolerate cooler weather conditions. Many of the oats are emerging in the area, including the research plots at the NE Iowa Research and Demonstration farm near Nashua. In regards to precipitation, over the last couple of weeks, we received about 1.5 inches of rain from April 28 through May 13 at the NE Research Farm according to the Iowa Mesonet, with 1.1 inches of that total falling on May 8. Crossing fingers for dry and warm planting conditions for farmers.”


Central Iowa

Meaghan Anderson: (Region 7): “The last week has brought enough rainfall to keep wheels from turning across much of central Iowa with counties getting anywhere from about 0.75 inches to almost 2 inches. Some areas missed rains over this weekend and are already back in the field. While things have been slow this spring and most fields seem to have plenty of moisture, central Iowa has been quite low on precipitation in the last 30 days. Early-planted corn is just beginning to emerge, with some fields nearing V1; while we can row fields from the road, many look quite yellow and uneven up close. While corn has been slow to emerge, what I’ve seen has looked remarkably healthy for spending so many days in the ground. I have yet to see any soybeans out of the ground aside from at our demonstration plots near Boone, but with the warmer weather this week, many more of the early-planted fields will be out of the ground soon. Phone calls in the last week have been about using stabilizers with UAN applications, weed control, and questions about how long it is taking the corn to emerge after planting.”

Rainfall departures from normal across the state for the last 30 days/ Source: ISU Mesonet.


East Central, Southeast, and South Central:

Rebecca Vittetoe (Region 8): “It seems like fields get just about dried out and we get another shot of rain and have to start the drying process all over again. Rainfall totals over the last week have ranged anywhere from 0.5 inches to 1.5 inches of rainfall. The corn and soybeans that got in the ground prior to this wet spell are starting to emerge. In some cases, it has taken the corn and soybeans 3 or more weeks to emerge due to the cool conditions. Some of the first emerged corn is approaching the V1 stage. Like the corn and soybeans, pastures and hay fields have also been slow growing this spring. Alfalfa in Washington County is measuring at about 17” in height with no buds visible yet. The PEAQ relative feed value for this crop as it stands is 230. Unfortunately, the weeds haven’t seemed to be phased by the cooler and wet conditions.” 

Virgil Schmitt (Region 9): “In general we have had between 0.5 and 1.5 inches of rain across the area I cover. Very little field work was done in the last week. Corn planting ranges from about 50% done near the Missouri border to less than 25% farther north. Soybean planting is about 10% near the Missouri border to less than 5% farther north. Forage crop growth is slow. Winter annual weeds are doing very well.”

Josh Michel (Region 11): “Many areas across the region received 0.5 inches to 1.5 inches of rainfall over the last 7 days. While this rainfall is helping pastures and alfalfa fields green up, growth has been very slow due to cooler than normal temperatures. Generally, most fields have been too wet for any field activities, although some herbicide applications have been occurring in select locations where it’s been dry enough. Corn seedling emergence has been seen in many of the earlier planted fields. Overall, most of these corn fields are looking good. However, there are some areas with emergence concerns, particularly with some "corking screwing" and leafing out underground. Many farmers are getting anxious to hopefully finish planting this week, weather permitting.”


For audio versions of these crop updates, click here. 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...