Cold temperatures delay planting
The colder temperatures are delaying things for farmers who are getting prepared for the spring planting season.
Washington County farmer Lindsay Greiner said he hasn’t been able to do any field work yet because the conditions haven’t been right.
“Compared to last year, no, we’re not behind, but compared to normal years, we are behind,” Greiner said. “Around April 20 is when we like to start planting. Last year, it was May 12 before I did anything.”
Temperatures need to be warmer and drier in order for Greiner to begin working in his fields, he said.
“It’s been a long winter, that’s for sure, and I don’t think winter is done just yet,” Greiner said. “We’re supposed to get more snow tomorrow.”
While Greiner is waiting for the conditions to improve so he can begin preparing his fields he has been working on other things around his farm.
“Most of what we’re doing right now is running our equipment in the shop and making sure the equipment is running OK,” Greiner said.
Greiner said he has planted grass seed in the waterways on his 1,800-acre farm and replaced drainage tiles that have been damaged by rodents.
One thing he has noticed while replacing his drainage tiles is how dry the subsoil is.
“We were digging up the tile like I said before, and when we got below 2 feet it gets pretty dry,” Greiner said.
Parts of Iowa, including Washington County, are listed on the U.S. Drought Monitor map, as still being in a moderate drought, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center. Greiner is concerned about the drier conditions but still is optimistic about his crop yields.
“It’s a concern in the back of your mind, but you can’t control Mother Nature,” he said. “There’s an old wives’ tale that says ‘You plant in the dust and your bins will bust.’ It’s nicer to plant in the drier conditions.”
Once Greiner is ready he’ll plant 900 acres of corn and 900 acres of soybeans on his farm, which is a change compared to last year.
“We’re going to be planting a few more beans than normal, maybe about 5 percent more,” Greiner said. “The bean prices are higher than corn right now, so it kind of works out for us.”
Rob Stout, who farms 1,100 acres in Washington County, has noticed the colder temperatures affecting his cover crop, rye, which is just beginning to turn green.
“It has been a cool spring,” Stout said. “Our rye hasn’t been growing as fast this year, which has delayed things a little bit.”
Usually Stout is killing off the rye to plant soybeans and corn. He doesn’t think the soil temperature is warm enough yet.
“We haven’t had two weeks of 70-degree temperatures yet, which is what we need for the soil to be ready,” Stout said. “Planting the corn will probably be delayed a couple of weeks.”
Stout will plant 550 acres of corn and 550 acres of soybeans this year, which is what he usually does. He said he’s not going to change how he’s doing things this year because the prices have dropped on corn or because the subsoil is drier.
“I always plan on a good year,” Stout said. “I’m not going to change anything because it’s dry.”