Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 26, 2014

Crop planting running behind

By Xiomara Levsen | May 01, 2014

Farmers are behind with corn planting because of two issues.
The first issue is the temperature of the soil, said Virgil Schmitt, field agronomist from the Iowa State University Extension Office in Muscatine; the second issue is the excess moisture farm fields have from the recent rains.
“Crop reports from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) said on April 28 about 5 percent of corn has been planted,” Schmitt said. “Normally, a third of the planting would be done; but the good news is last year at this time we were at 2 percent so we’re better off this year.”
If temperatures reach the 60s, as the National Weather Service (NWS) has predicted for this weekend, this will raise the soil temperature, Schmitt said. Also, on Saturday there isn’t supposed to be any rain, which will help get farmers back in their fields for planting.
“If we get two to three days without rain, the soil should be in the condition for planting,” Schmitt said. “Saturday will give things a chance to dry out. On Sunday, people should be able to get back into their fields and the soil temperature should be back up.”
According to Schmitt, corn seeds planted by May 15 have a history of high yields.
“In our part of the world if the corn is planted by May 15 the corn yield is around 95 percent,” he said. “There is about two weeks to get it done by then. If we get it done by then, we’re in good shape.”
Rob Stout, a farmer in Washington County, owns 1,100 acres of farmland. He said the cool, wet spring has put him behind with his planting.
“We have about 50 acres planted,” Stout said. “We have the first field planted and that’s about it, but I’m not too upset that we aren’t further along. The corn seed doesn’t like cold, wet ground.”
This spring is starting to look a little like last spring, Stout said.
“At least the rain is not coming all at once like I think it did last year,” he said. “The tile started running two to three days ago, so we have excess moisture now.”
Despite the rain Iowa has received in the past two weeks, the U.S. Drought Monitor still has Washington County listed as being in a moderate drought, which was released Thursday morning, Schmitt said.
“We’re still in moderate drought, but that’s based on their observations from Tuesday, so the rains we got yesterday aren’t in there,” Schmitt said. “That’s the good news, is the conditions with subsoil moisture are definitely better.”
Two inches of rain are needed to impact the subsoil conditions, Schmitt said.
“There was a concern about the water going into the growing season,” he said. “Now I’m hearing from farmers that their tile lines are running. Once they’re running that means they’re full.”
Another good thing about the rains southeastern Iowa has seen the past two weeks is that it’s not excessive or all at once.
“My comrades in northeast Iowa can’t do anything,” Schmitt said. “It’s just too wet. If they don’t get their corn seeds planted by May 2, then their corn yields will go down, and they’re beginning to expect that.”

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