Iowa corn likely safe from frost, climatologist says

by Laura Lloyd
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KANSAS CITY — Harry Hillaker, state climatologist in Iowa’s Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship,  told Milling & Baking News that slow maturation of  this year’s Iowa’s corn crop compared with the five-year average  represented a lag of “only a very few days” and wouldn’t expose the crop to any significant threats of damage from frost.

In the latest Crop Progress report, Iowa corn was designated as 58% mature compared with 77% as the five-year average for the date.  Two per cent of the crop was harvested as of Sept. 28 compared with 15% as the five-year average. Iowa is the top corn-producing state in the United States. Mr. Hillaker said a mild growing season and timely planting were favorable for development of the Iowa corn crop in 2014. Seventy-six per cent of the crop was rated good to excellent as of Sept. 28, with 18% rated fair and 6% very poor to poor.

Mr. Hillaker said a few areas of the state experienced a freeze on Sept. 13 that, though early, didn’t appear to have caused much of a problem for the crop. The October weather outlook includes a slight chance of freezing temperatures recurring in scattered parts of the state, he said. The likelihood, though, was that daily lows over the next few weeks were likely to remain at 33 degrees Fahrenheit or above, according to the National Weather Service in Des Moines, Iowa.

Thunderstorms across Iowa over the next several days could pose a more immediate problem by bringing harvest progress to a temporary standstill later this week.

The U.S.D.A. September Crop Production report said Iowa was expected to produce 2,442 billion bus of corn for grain 2014, with an average yield per acre of 185 bus.
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