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Harvest slows amid rainfall but is still ahead of average

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Posted at 11:21 AM, Oct 17, 2023

About 42% of the state’s corn crop and 74% of its soybeans have been harvested this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture report on Monday.

That is up from 30% of corn and 52% of soybeans a week ago. Harvest progress has been stymied by significant rainfall in the past week.

“Stations across Iowa’s northern half received more than a month’s worth of rainfall,” wrote State Climatologist Justin Glisan in his weekly weather summary.

Wide areas of northwest and far eastern Iowa had tremendous rainfall. The highest was 5.29 inches in Sioux Rapids, Glisan reported. The lowest was 0.07 inches in south-central Iowa.

The statewide average for rainfall last week was 1.85 inches, which is nearly three times the normally expected amount.

“The widespread rain is definitely ill-timed yet still badly needed,” said Mike Naig, the state’s agriculture secretary. “Though combines are sidelined, and harvest progress is slowed, the rain will have a positive impact on re-charging soil moisture, establishing cover crops and replenishing pastures.”

Less than half of the state’s topsoil has sufficient moisture for growing crops, the USDA reported. About 26% of its subsoil has adequate or surplus moisture.

Despite delays, this year’s harvest is still ahead of the five-year average. The corn harvest is about six days ahead of that average, and soybean harvesting is a full week ahead of the average. Dry conditions throughout the growing season led the crops to mature more quickly.

Nearly all of Iowa is experiencing some measure of drought, and livestock pastures have suffered. Just 16% of them are rated good or excellent.

“Livestock conditions were reported as generally good, but some producers continued to haul hay and water to their livestock on pasture,” the USDA said.

Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: info@iowacapitaldispatch.com. Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.

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