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Expect weather to continue planting delay

By Staff | Apr 22, 2011

“We had a good fall ... planters are bigger ... we can get done quickly.” —Paul Kassel ISU crop specialistO

Crop consultants and agronomists advise farmers to not get too hasty in starting their planting chores just yet.

According to Iowa State University, the ideal planting window for corn in most of the Farm News coverage area is from April 15 to May 18.

Corn planted between those dates, said John Holmes, ISU crops specialist, who is based in Clarion, are still expected to have no yield penalties.

Once the ground is dry enough,”?Holmes said, “and soil temperatures are at 50 degrees and climbing, planting can start.”

Otherwise, said Bob Streit, an independent crop consultant and Farm News columnist, “there’s nothing they can do.

“I’d rather keep the seed in the bag.”

He said that most stand failures during the past fives have been the result of planting too soon. “We can still get max yields if planted by May 7 through May 9.”

When conditions do improve, Streit said, “with the size of planters, they can get planted in a hurry.”

Forecast not positive

But weather forecasts are not too optimistic over the next two weeks. Continued cool weather and precipitation will be the dominant features of weather, with occasional breaks in the cloud cover.

However, said Harry Hilleary, state climatologist, “those one or two days of sun may not be enough to dry topsoil” before more rain arrives.

“If there is a good side to all of this,”?Hillaker said, “it’s that this current weather pattern is very, very changeable.”

He said the precipitation that Iowa has received this spring has not been extensive so far “and it’s not too saturated.”

Farmers need to hope for a break real soon, Hillaker said. If it does, with some 30 miles per hour wind, topsoil can dry out quickly.

Most producers being patient

With the exception of a few Central Iowa fields that were planted to corn last week, Holmes said, “most farmers are being patient. They aren’t in a hurry.

“They remember last year when the corn was in early, it came up nice, and frosted on May 9.”

Farmers just need to make sure the soil is firm enough for farm machinery to avoid compaction, Holmes said.

Corn delay could pressure soybeans

If weather patterns persist to create a longer delay for planting corn, said Paul Kassel, an ISU crop specialist based in Spencer, it could push soybean planting back, or add pressure for other field work, such as spraying.

“This could compact the planting season,” Kassel said.

As weather forecasts indicate an extended cold, wet spell, Kassel said first planting may not occur until at least April 28.

“So (for soybeans) that could mean some yield potential is lost already.”

Nevertheless, on the positive side, Kassel said, “We had a good fall, fertilizing is caught up, planters are bigger, there’s more minimum-tillage and no-till practices – we can get done quickly.”

Contact Larry Kershner at (515) 573-21141, Ext. 453 or at kersh@farm-news.com.

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