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Widespread rainfall slows crop harvest in Iowa


Widespread rainfall slows crop harvest in Iowa

Sep 25, 2023 | 5:51 pm ET
By Jared Strong
Widespread rainfall slows crop harvest in Iowa
Iowa's corn is maturing this year about 12 days ahead of normal. (Photo by Jared Strong/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Significant rainfall late last week impeded the harvest of Iowa’s corn and soybeans, but it helped replenish some soil moisture that has been sorely lacking in the ongoing drought.

About 9% of the state’s corn crop has been harvested for grain, along with about 11% of soybeans, according to a Monday report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Those were modest gains from the week prior, when 5% of corn and 3% of soybeans had been harvested.

“Much-needed rainfall last week paused some harvesting but will help cover crops get established while replenishing soil moisture in areas hit hard by drought,” said Mike Naig, the state’s agriculture secretary.

Rainfall totals last week topped 5 inches in Chickasaw County in northeast Iowa, but very little precipitation was reported in far southeast Iowa, State Climatologist Justin Glisan noted. He has said it will take repeated significant rainfalls to eliminate drought conditions that are affecting nearly all of the state.

Statewide there was an average of 1.09 inches of rainfall last week, compared with the normally expected 0.86 inches.

About 27% of the state’s topsoil has adequate or surplus moisture for growing crops. That’s up from 21% a week ago but is less than half of what it was a year ago.

Despite the pause in farm work due to rainfall, the harvest is still several days ahead of schedule. That is partly due to crops maturing more quickly this year because of the drought and searing temperatures in late August and early September. The state’s corn is maturing about 12 days ahead of the five-year average.