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Rained out? Join the Missouri corn club

A farmer parks his tractor as corn planting reaches 60% complete; weed and insect pressure are mounting.

Mindy Ward, Editor, Missouri Ruralist

May 14, 2024

2 Min Read
A planting tractor in a field of soil
WAITING GAME: Wet weather patterns caused Missouri farmers to pause planting corn and soybeans last week after a good start to the #Grow24 season. Emerged corn plants now face weed and pest pressure as soaked fields do not support sprayers either. Mindy Ward

Sitting on the fence. That’s where Missouri corn grower Jay Schutte finds himself this planting season.

As he waits for another rainstorm to blow through, he grapples with decisions about the corn crop.

“I don’t think we’re looking at a replant situation here,” he says. “We had seed in the ground. They had three or four days to germinate and start the growing process.”

Corn growers a few miles to the northeast may not be as fortunate. A weather event dumped an inch of rain in 10 minutes.

“It may not seem like a lot, but ground up there is as flat as a tabletop and water just sat there,” Schutte explains. “Practically everything in those areas will have to be replanted.”

While not easy, Missouri farmers dodged rain, hail and tornadoes to reach the halfway mark for the 2024 corn planting season.

Corn growers are about 60% complete with planting the projected 3.5 million acres, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Progress and Condition Report. Plant emergence is ahead of the five-year average at 48%.

Forecasted rain this week may further delay planting progress and chemical applications.

Weed, pest problems emerge

Schutte needs to run a sprayer across acres where corn is up to fight weeds and pests.

“Waterhemp is probably an inch tall out in the field,” he says, “but it doesn’t take much for it to grow.”

Insects such as cutworms are already feeding on young plants, but they are above the growing point. At this stage, a corn plant can tolerate the injury, but for how long?

“Ten days down the road, if we’re not getting some herbicides and insecticides in those fields,” Schutte adds, “I’m going to start getting worried. “

As a warmer, drier pattern sets up over the weekend, the Audrain County farmer may be able to roll out the corn planter he parked April 29. He says modern technology and equipment will make quick work of the process.

Upside of more water

Schutte says moisture was needed in the state.

Precipitation fills the subsoil moisture reserves for later in the planting season, he explains, but equally important, it raises Mississippi River water levels.

Concerns arose during winter months as low river levels inhibited shipping.

“It doesn't matter how good of a crop you have,” Schutte explains. “If it doesn’t make it to market, it doesn't do you any good.”

Midwest rains from Minnesota to Missouri added to the river water, allowing the shipping channel to open this spring.

Here are some other crop planting stats from this spring:

Soybeans. 30% planted, five-year average is 16%.

Cotton. 34% planted, five-year average is 15%.

Rice. 77% planted, five-year average is 52%.

Winter wheat. 76% headed, five-year average is 34%.

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About the Author(s)

Mindy Ward

Editor, Missouri Ruralist

Mindy resides on a small farm just outside of Holstein, Mo, about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis.

After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism, she worked briefly at a public relations firm in Kansas City. Her husband’s career led the couple north to Minnesota.

There, she reported on large-scale production of corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and dairy, as well as, biofuels for The Land. After 10 years, the couple returned to Missouri and she began covering agriculture in the Show-Me State.

“In all my 15 years of writing about agriculture, I have found some of the most progressive thinkers are farmers,” she says. “They are constantly searching for ways to do more with less, improve their land and leave their legacy to the next generation.”

Mindy and her husband, Stacy, together with their daughters, Elisa and Cassidy, operate Showtime Farms in southern Warren County. The family spends a great deal of time caring for and showing Dorset, Oxford and crossbred sheep.

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