A sizzling summer?

June 30, 2022 | Jeff Hutton

As we approach the Fourth of July, has Iowa’s growing season proven a boom or a bust?

Well, as any farmer will tell you, it’s too early to tell and with anything associated with weather, there simply are no guarantees.

IDALS report

A quick snapshot of what’s happening now in Iowa’s ag landscape suggests a positive outlook for this year’s soybean crop.

The latest report from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) noted 97% of soybeans have emerged, four days behind last year but three days ahead of the five-year average. Two percent of soybeans were blooming, 12 days behind last year and one week behind the average. Iowa’s soybean condition rating remained 80% good to excellent.

IDALS also reported that:

  • Corn condition rating was 80% good to excellent.
  • 80% of the oat crop has head, two days behind last year.
  • 12% of oats were turning color, six days behind last year. Oat condition was listed as 81% good to excellent.
  • 91% of Iowa’s first cutting of alfalfa hay has been completed and the second cutting has started with 6% complete. All hay condition rated 72% good to excellent. Pasture condition rated 62% good to excellent.


Dennis Todey, director of the USDA Midwest Climate Hub in Ames, said conditions in Iowa have been fairly good for crops … so far.

“Most of the state was planted late because of cold and wet conditions in April. Some did get planted, but most of the acres were planted in May. That put crops behind on development. They are still running behind, but they have been able to catch up because of warmer conditions over much of the last month,” he says.

Todey notes the other issue is soil moisture. Parts of central and eastern Iowa have received large amounts of rain – some too large. 

Much of the state has received less than average at various time scales leaving drier than average soils. The warmer conditions have added to the evapo-transpiration from the soil/plant surface, he says, and that is helping dry soils more quickly than the lack of precipitation would indicate.

In the recent report, IDALS reported topsoil moisture condition rated 6% very short, 22% short, 67% adequate and 5% surplus. Subsoil moisture conditions rated 5% very short, 22% short, 68% adequate and 5% surplus.

The heat is on

Of course, these numbers fluctuate as the weather changes.

Todey says temperatures are projected to be above average for a large part of July, at least for the next couple of weeks and possibly beyond.

“Oddly enough we have a slightly better than average chance for precipitation,” he says. “That situation is critical for corn right now. If some of the drier areas are able to get a couple inches of rain in the next 7-10 days that will be good. But the dry places that miss out will see more stress on corn. Tasseling is likely to be in the next 2-3 weeks. So, it is a critical time for yield potential in corn.”

Todey says northwest Iowa is at greatest risk for stress caused by heat and/or lack of precipitation. Other areas, including the eastern Corn Belt, is seeing more rapid drying as well.

It’s a mixed bag continuing into July and throughout August, a critical period for soybeans, Todey says.

“Right now, chances for warmer and drier conditions exist into July, but probabilities are not as strong right now,” he says. “Likely, what is going to happen with precipitation over the next couple of weeks will be some winners and losers with winners getting rain and losers not getting much. That is more typical of summer convective precipitation.”

Click here to see current drought conditions.