DES MOINES — After a slow start, Iowa farmers are finally beginning to make progress with spring planting.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the week ending May 19 was the best so far this spring for farmers. Corn planting took off, with 71 percent of the state's crop in the ground by week's end. That's up 56 percentage points compared to the prior week.
Officials say that's close to a record pace for the state, but it still runs well behind planting averages seen in prior years.
Soybeans are just getting started, comparatively. Only 16 percent of the state's soybean crop has been planted. It was at 78 percent at this time last year. The five-year average is 59 percent complete by this point in the season.
The retreat of drought conditions means the state has comparatively little land short of moisture. In southeast Iowa, 71 percent of topsoil has adequate moisture and 64 percent of subsoil is in that category. Most of the remaining soil has a surplus.
Weather continued to be unpredictable. May saw one of the latest major snowstorms in Iowa history and, last week, saw the highest temperature ever for May in Sioux City. Temperatures there hit 106 on May 14. Statewide, conditions averaged 8.4 degrees above normal.