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Northern Iowa farmers struggle to plant wet fieldsNorthern Iowa farmers struggle to plant wet fields

Severe delays have farmers still trying to finish planting corn in late May.

May 25, 2018

3 Min Read
SOAKED: Plagued by too much rain this spring, less than 10% of the corn and soybeans had been planted in some areas of northwest Iowa as of May 20.

In sharp contrast to the rest of the state, northern Iowa is way behind in getting corn and soybeans in the ground this spring. The delays are primarily affecting the top two rows of counties across the state. Heading into the final week of May, planters were finally rolling.

“Many farmers are planting around the wet spots in fields,” noted Paul Kassel on May 25. “There’s water still standing in some fields.”

Kassel, an Iowa State University Extension field agronomist at Spencer in northwest Iowa, says, “It’s been really wet. It reminds me of 1991, 1993 and 2013.”

Soils were already wet after a mid-April blizzard dumped up to a foot of snow in northern Iowa. Then up to 8 inches of rain fell during the first two weeks of May.

ISU to hold late-planting meetings
ISU Extension has scheduled several meetings next week in northwest Iowa to answer farmers’ questions regarding late planting decisions (see information at the end of this article). ISU research shows corn yields begin to decline about 1% per day after May 15 planting dates and rapidly fall off with planting after June 1. USDA’s weekly crop progress report indicated northwest Iowa had 69% of its 2018 corn crop planted as of May 20, compared to 88% for the entire state. North central Iowa lagged at 71% planted, northeast Iowa at 80%. Soybean planting was only 29% complete in northwest Iowa, 21% in north central and 52% in northeast.

Northeast Iowa farmer Chris Edgington was planting corn May 25 in Mitchell County. “We’re 75% finished and still have 25% to go on corn” he said, referring to his family’s farming operation. “Then we need to finish planting beans. We need good weather; no more rain for a while.”

Unfavorable conditions raise questions
Kassel and other ISU Extension field agronomists are getting questions from farmers regarding late-planting options. “ISU Extension has resources to help farmers make critical planting decisions due to wet conditions,” he says. “They need to consider replanting options, perhaps changing corn hybrids for maturity concerns, or switching from corn to soybeans. There are also potential crop insurance risks, and yield impacts to consider.” ISU agronomists recommend using the following resources when making decisions in the next few weeks:

• Crop insurance considerations: Understanding Initial, Delayed and Prevented Planting Decisions

• Changes impacting manure management: Crop Rotation Changes May Impact Manure Management Plans

• Yield loss and related information: Delayed Planting Afflicted on Northern Iowa; Prevented Planting FAQs for 2018; and Soybean Planting Decision Tool.

Three meetings for farmers to attend will be held in northern Iowa next week, focusing on the impacts and next steps when dealing with delayed planting. They’ll be held in Emmet County, Palo Alto County and Kossuth County. You can find more information on those meetings on the ISU Extension Kossuth County website.

“There are several important things to consider when weather delays your intended planting strategies,” says Kassel. “Use these resources we’ve mentioned here and contact a local field agronomist if you have questions, to make the best decision for your farm.”




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