A closer look at late July crop progress in Iowa

Farmers in the Hawkeye state had 6 days suitable for fieldwork last week to spray, harvest hay, and move grain. Aerial application of fungicides was also reported last week. Although the dry weather allowed for time in the field, many crops are in need of moisture.

“Drought conditions continued to expand across western Iowa over the last week,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “Some parts of the drought region did receive much needed rainfall. Forecasts show we should expect seasonal temperatures and additional chances of isolated storms through the last week of July.”


The latest drought monitor indicates more than half the state is abnormally dry or worse. West central Iowa crops are suffering from severe drought.

Iowa drought monitor map pulled July 23, 2020
Image credit: Richard Heim, NCEI/NOAA

Over the last week, scattered showers and thunderstorms brought measurable rain to many parts of the state, although a number of areas missed out. Total precipitation was below a half inch for most counties.

Map of Iowa precipitation
Image credit: Iowa Environmental Mesonet

Top soil moisture levels were rated 11% very short, 27% short, 59% adequate, and 3% surplus.

Subsoil moisture levels were rated 6% very short, 25% short, 65% adequate, and 3% surplus.


On Monday USDA rated 77% of Iowa corn good to excellent, just ahead of the national rating of 72%.

An average of 87% of Iowa corn is at the silking stage. Corn in northcentral and east central Iowa is the furthest along with 94% silking. Just 79% of corn in northeast Iowa is silking.

An average of 23% of Iowa corn is at the dough stage, well above last year's rate of 5% and the 13% five-year average.


USDA rated Iowa soybeans 76% good to excellent on Monday. Nationally, soybeans were rated 72% good to excellent.

An average of 85% of Iowa soybeans are blooming. Soybeans in the northcentral part of the state are 99% blooming.

Half of the state's soybeans are setting pods, up from 29% last week.


Farmers with alfalfa have completed 84% of second cutting vs. 76% last week. Third alfalfa cutting is 5% complete vs. a 9% five-year average.

Hay condition rated 69% good to excellent.

Pasture condition rated 51% good to excellent. Iowa Department of Agriculture reported some pastures are going doormant due to lack of adequate rain.

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