The big rains didn't come as early as weathermen predicted last week, and it wound up providing up to five good drying days in some parts of Indiana. While things didn't exactly dry up and blow away, it did provide hope and a fresh reminder that a few, sunny relatively warm spring day can begin to turn conditions around. The trick is waiting until they've turned around enough so that you don't create worse problems by trying to rush in the crop.
However, first signs of field activity were reported before a dip back to rainy, then cold weather late last week. Kerry Graves, Greene County, reported that he finally was able to topdress his wheat without flying it on. Earlier, Graves and neighboring farmers in southwest Indiana were going to fly on half of the N needed as urea to get some out there, then wait until soils dried more to apply the rest topdress as 28% liquid N. But as it turns out, the air strip was too soggy for the planes to take off on grass runways when they were ready to do it.
After a few drying days local applicators with ground equipment decided they could make the application themselves. While Graves reports a few soft spots, his applicator was able to apply 28% N on his entire acreage. It's important to apply N on wheat before it reaches a certain growth stage to avoid yield loss due to lack of N needed for crop growth and wheat grain production.
Elsewhere in the state, reports indicate that some urea was flown on by airplane. Some producers opted to fly on the total amount as urea, even at an application charge of $25 per acre, figuring that with high wheat prices, the benefit far outweighed not getting it applied in time.
Elsewhere, a few oats were seeded on a diary in central Indiana last week. And one report, unverified of course, indicates one farmer did plant some soybeans in northwest Indiana. However the same report indicated that he couldn't get all the way through the field due to a wet spot, so he turned around and only did the area he could get over.
Gary Steinhardt, Purdue University soils specialist, talks about 'the cost of doing business' when you know you're going to create soil compaction, but also know you must get a crop into or out of the field,. In other words, sometimes you have no choice but to run across the field, even if you create ruts. Expect Steinhardt to classify the case of getting N on wheat as meeting that criteria. However, mudding in soybeans in early April at the risk of compacting soils might be questionable as a justifiable cost of doing business by his definition.
The best you can hope for now is a return to warmer weather and more drying days. Look for reports of field activity to increase quickly once temperatures warm up.