ISA Newsroom

Agricultural news farmers want to know.

Planting in the home stretch

Article cover photo
A farmer near Woodward plants soybeans earlier this week. Soybean growers have 81 percent of the expected crop planted, a week ahead of the 5-year average according to the Iowa Crop Progress and Condition Report released by the USDA National Agricultural Statistical Service. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

By Matthew Wilde, ISA senior writer


Plant ’18 is almost in the books, even in northern Iowa.

Only 4 percent of the state’s intended corn acres and 19 percent of soybeans weren’t planted as of Sunday, according to the weekly U.S. Department of Agriculture Iowa Crop Progress and Condition Report released Tuesday.

Hot and dry weather most of last week allowed Iowa farmers to spend more than five days in the fields, the report said. Producers in the far northern counties made up for lost time planting — many finished — and progress statewide finally surged ahead of normal.

Soybean planting progress is now a week ahead of the five-year average and corn is 1 percentage point ahead of normal.

Wayne Fredericks, a former Iowa Soybean Association president near Osage, feared he wouldn’t get some crops in the ground like five years ago due to late snowfall and frequent rain delays. He finished on Monday.

“It’s nice to be done,” said Fredericks, an American Soybean Association director, on Wednesday. “We had some temperatures and winds open up a window to get things accomplished, unlike 2013.

“People are winding things up here,” he continued. “Guys I’m talking to in Mitchell County say they only have a day or two left.”

Farmers in the northern one-third of the state planted more than 20 percent of their corn last week leaving less than 10 percent remaining. Soybean planting lunged ahead by 41 percentage points in the north central crop reporting district, coming in at 62 percent complete.

A few scattered fields remain to be planted in the central and southern parts of the state.

“The warm, dry weather allowed many farmers to make significant progress,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig in a statement. “The high temperatures have created some stress for livestock and farmers have been working hard to provide plenty of water and make sure their animals are as comfortable as possible.”

 Last week’s heat and adequate soil moisture spurred rapid crop development. South central Iowa is the only part of the state where subsoil moisture is lacking.

Seventy-seven percent of Iowa’s corn crop has emerged, the report said.  That’s 24 percentage points better than last week and 1 percentage point ahead of the five-year average. The first corn condition survey statewide rates the crop as 0 percent very poor, 1 percent poor, 17 percent fair, 63 percent good and 19 percent excellent.

Soybean emergence is pegged at 40 percent, three days ahead of last year and 11 percentage points better than the five-year average.

Former Iowa Soybean Association President Wayne Fredericks of Osage finished planting this week despite numerous rain delays and a late snow. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

“Earlier planted crops have emerged and look excellent. The stand and color are good,” Fredericks said. “I think the yield potential is pretty good.”

Corn yield potential decreases after May 15 and rapidly declines after June 1, according to a recent Iowa State University (ISU) study from 2014-16. Fields with a plant density of 35,000 per acre, on average, will yield 70 percent from May 25-June 5 and 54 percent from June 5-15.

ISU research shows soybean yields, on average, decline by .25 to .9 bushels per day seed isn’t in the ground after May 15. Soybeans planted in northern Iowa in early June will yield, on average, 81 percent of its potential. In southern and central Iowa, the percentage jumps to 89 percent and 93 percent, respectively.

Terry Basol, an ISU Extension regional agronomist based near Nashua, said planting should be wrapped up in a couple of days. Crop emergence in his territory is extremely variable depending on planting date, he added.

Emerged corn at the most is in the V4 to V5 growth stage in north central Iowa and some soybeans are at V1.

“Farmers are breathing a sigh of relief that it’s not 2013 all over again,” Basol said. “A colleague and I were starting to plan a prevent-plant meeting but scrapped the idea.”

With current soil moisture conditions and recent good growth, he believes an excellent harvest is on the horizon despite some yield potential being lost due to late planting. That is, barring further weather woes.

“I still think growers are in pretty good shape,” Basol said.

Contact Matthew Wilde at

For media inquiries, please contact Katie Johnson, ISA Public Relations Manager at or Aaron Putze, ISA Communications Director at

For permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos contact Aaron Putze at Iowa Soybean Association | 1255 SW Prairie Trail Pkwy | Ankeny | IA | 50023 | US

©2018 Iowa Soybean Association On-Farm Network®. All rights reserved. On-Farm Network® is a registered trademark of the Iowa Soybean Association, Ankeny, IA.Portions of some On-Farm Network trials are paid for in total or in part by the soybean checkoff.