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Serving: IA
Planters Are Rolling, But Corn Planting Still Lags Across Iowa

Planters Are Rolling, But Corn Planting Still Lags Across Iowa

Planters began to roll this past weekend but only 8% of this year's corn crop was in the ground as of May 1 in Iowa. At this time a year ago 82% was planted. While weather is allowing planting to continue, this spring remains one of the slowest planting seasons in Iowa in a decade.

Many farmers in Iowa were finally able to get into the field and plant corn toward the end of last week, hoping to catch up on a planting season that has fallen far behind. Only 8% of the state's 2011 corn acreage was planted as of May 1, compared with 82% last year and an average of 48% by this date based on the last five years.

Those numbers are from the latest weekly weather and crop survey report, released May 2 by the Iowa office of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service in Des Moines. "After a cold, wet April, as we are now moving into May, the weather has finally allowed farmers to begin planting in earnest," notes Greg Thessen, state director of the NASS office in Iowa which conducts the statewide survey each week. "However, this spring continues to be one of the slowest corn planting seasons in the last ten years."

The chart supplied by Thessen, which accompanies this article, provides a dramatic snapshot of the slow 2011 planting progress. The complete weekly crop and weather report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture's site at or on USDA's site at

Warmer and drier weather allowing farmers to plant this week

The weather took a slightly warmer and drier turn near the end of last week and allowed farmers to resume fieldwork and planting activities, notes Thessen. By May 1, corn planting was just getting started for most farmers in Iowa, while a few smaller acreage farmers were nearly finished.

Here are some comments received this week from farmers and other crop reporters who contribute to the statewide survey:

• I had to scrape frost off my windshield this morning (May 2, 2011)

• The key thought for this week is "stay out of the way" as farmers hit the fields and travel the roadways to get the spring work and planting done.

• Expect to see large increases in planting progress this week. Just about everyone with a planter was out in the field on Sunday May 1 and with the following three or four days projected to be nice weather….look out!

• Last year I finished planting on April 28, 2010. This year I don't have the planter hooked up yet as of April 28.

There were 1.7 days suitable for field work statewide during the week ending May 1. The southwest and west central districts had 3 and 3.1 days suitable. Topsoil moisture levels now rate zero percent very short, 1% short, 67% adequate and 32% surplus. Subsoil moisture rates zero percent very short, 1% short, 73% adequate and 26% surplus.

Statewide, 8% of Iowa's corn acreage was planted as of May 1 compared with 82% at this time last year and the 5-year average of 48%. Normally, 8% of Iowa's corn crop is in the ground by mid-April. Southwest Iowa farmers lead the way this spring with 21% of their corn acreage planted as of May 1. The only other district with over 10% planted is west central with 14% of the corn acreage planted.

Oat acreage planted was 83% complete as of May 1, behind last year's 98% but marginally ahead of the average of 82%. Statewide 44% of the oat acreage has emerged, well behind last year's 77% but only one percentage point behind the five-year average.

Pasture and range condition in Iowa currently rates 2% very poor, 7% poor, 38% fair, 44% good and 9% excellent. Livestock farmers are fighting mud—many feedlots and gravel roads are difficult to navigate.

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