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Red, white and rain

Article cover photo
Ponding is an issue in soybean fields throughout central Iowa, especially near Ankeny, after more than 10 inches of rain fell during the past week. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

By Matthew Wilde, ISA senior writer


Wicked weather battered crops in many parts of the state leading up to the Fourth of July.

More than 10 inches of rain fell in Ankeny Saturday and other central Iowa locations received nearly as much, according to Monday’s weekly U.S. Department of Agriculture Iowa Crop Progress and Condition Report. A cluster of thunderstorms ripped across southern Iowa from Harrison County to Lee County on June 28, which generated 40 reports of severe straight-line winds and hail.

Instead of thoroughly enjoying a holiday cookout with family and friends, many farmers may have wondered if soybeans and corn affected by Mother Nature’s wrath will survive.

Steve Johnson, an Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach farm management specialist based in Polk County, said time will tell.

“There’s a lot of in-field variability because of ponding and other weather-related damage,” Johnson said.

Submerged crops typically survive underwater for one to four days, depending on the growth stage and temperature, experts say. Most soybeans and corn are tall enough to endure several days of standing water.

However, prolonged ponding and saturated soils hamper plant development. That can be problematic as soybeans and corn enter the critical reproduction period.

The report indicates 21 percent of the state’s soybean crop has bloomed, four days ahead of last year and six days ahead of the five-year average. Seven percent of the corn crop has silked, a week ahead of last year and the five-year average, the report said.

“Excess water affects soybeans more than corn this time of year,” said Mark Licht, ISU Extension cropping systems agronomist. “You can see the mosaic of colors in the fields as a result.

“Too much water hinders water and nutrient uptake,” he continued. “With soy in full bloom and corn tasseling, that will hurt yields at the end of the year.”

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said recent storms have flooded fields and caused significant damage.

“Hopefully, the weather this week will allow the state to dry out so farmers can get into their fields to evaluate conditions and view any damage,” he said in a statement.

Weather-related crop damage estimates aren’t available. However, Johnson said a slight increase in the percent of acres statewide rated in very poor to poor condition indicate the acreage isn’t insignificant.

Four percent of soybeans and corn last week were rated in poor to very poor condition compared to 6 percent this week, the report said.

Despite recent weather events that will likely reduce yields in some fields statewide, overall crop condition ratings are positive. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

“I’m one of the 200 people who provide weekly assessments, and I increased the percentage of crops in the poor to very poor categories by 2 percent. That’s where I put the flooded acres,” Johnson said.

In many regions of the state, crops are thriving.

Seventy-six percent of Iowa’s soybeans are rated in good to excellent condition, according to the report. Corn is fairing slightly better at 78 percent good to excellent.

Pat Swanson, an Iowa Soybean Association District 9 director, farms near Ottumwa. She said corn and soybeans are in good shape, but could use some rain.

Southeast and south central Iowa are probably the only two regions of the state that would welcome it, she said. Topsoil moisture is rated more than 30 percent very short and short in both regions, the report said. Subsoil moisture in southeast Iowa is rated 64 percent short or very short, the report said.

“Crops are looking pretty good around here,” Swanson said. “There were some cases of green snap in corn recently from high winds, but issues were isolated.”

Contact Matthew Wilde at

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

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