Farm tractors were silent for nearly the entire month of April, and even the last week of March, in many areas of the Corn Belt, especially in Indiana. Continued rain showers on a regular basis prevented drying out. And until recently, cool temperatures also limited drying potential for wet soils. All this would seem to indicate there wasn't an opportunity for early planting. But somehow at least a couple of people found a way to plant early.
A long-time advocate of planting soybeans early, Tracy Mabry, Morgantown, was determined to get in the field early again this time. So when most neighbors were able to do some tillage and make fertilizer applications during the third week of March in his area, Mabry went for the home run. He planted more than 100 acres of soybeans by March 17. Since then, he too hasn't turned a wheel, at least not until this past weekend.
Just last week, Mabry insisted most were ready to sprout. And he insists that the soybean seeds in the ground for roughly a month were still healthy, and that he didn't find rotting seed. He expects his fields to emerge and grow normally as weather warms up.
Why shouldn't he? He's planted early for several years, and has yields exceed 70 bushels per acre on an 80-acre field for soybeans planted during the first week in April. He reports that almost every season, even last year, after the infamous June flood, his earliest planted soybeans were the best. He typically plants soybeans until mid-April, then switches to planting corn.
Also comes word from a consultant and marketing analyst in Illinois that a decent amount of corn went into the ground in late March. Most of the planting apparently happened south of Springfield, Ill. How that corn will fare was still up in the air when the analyst issued a note to his clients last week. Apparently there was a freeze and even a light amount of snow in some areas after the corn was planted and up.
From southern Indiana comes the information that while planting is behind, there has been some activity on the sandiest soils in the area. Gene Flaningam is a soils consultant near Vincennes and a frequent contributor to Crops Corner and Hoosier Bug Beat in Indiana Prairie Farmer. Those columns are based on information provided by members of the Indiana Certified Crop Advisors group.
Mainly it's been sweet corn that has been planted so far, he notes. And while there's been tough weather since it was planted, some it was emerging last week, the consultant notes.
Stay tuned for more anecdotes as planting season revs up.