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Weather still bedeviling growing season

By Staff | May 27, 2011

By LARRY KERSHNER

Farm News news editor

After a strong planting start in early May, allowing Iowa farmers, as a whole, to catch up to the 2010 planting pace, rain has halted all attempts to finish planting and has growers and agronomists alike concerned.

This spring, most of the Corn Belt states have been late getting into the fields, with Ohio lagging furthest behind with just 11 percent of its intended corn acres in the ground.

By contrast, Iowa corn planting was listed as 98 percent finished as of Sunday.

With 74 percent of the corn and 21 percent of soybeans emerged, heavy rains across the area are threatening the possibility of ponding, leading to potential replanting.

Paul Kassel, an Iowa State University field agronomist, housed in Clay County, said that although the amount of rainfall received over his region – Pocahontas, Clay, Buena Vista, Dickinson, Emmet, Kossuth and Palo Alto counties – since April 1 is close to normal of the 60-year average, the soil profile was full and he fears the region may be headed for excessive moisture.

“It’s too early to tell,” Kassel said. But he added there was some standing water in fields last week, with rain during the weekend and again Tuesday and Wednesday.

Ponding will likely require some replanting and an expected yield loss in those acres.

He said there is also the question of unused nitrogen leaching out due to the rains.

“It’ll set things back a bit.”

Time for strip-tilling?

According to Mark Licht, an ISU field agronomist, he’s been telling growers it’s time to seriously consider using strip-till practices.

This is third year growers have endured significant rainfall, Licht noted. “It’s becoming more typical.”

He said the Carroll area received a half-inch of rain in a 30-minute period on Tuesday and then another half-inch overnight. “and it’s still raining today,” he told Farm News on Wednesday. “There’s not a lot of protection in tilled fields right now.”

He said he’s been telling growers to be sure their grassed waterways and terraces are working properly.

Concerning the crop condition, Licht said the early stands look as good as he’s seen in the past couple of years.

Emergence was uniform, weeds appear to be under control, despite delayed planting, and not much evidence of cutworm activity in corn or leaf beetles on soybeans.

Contact Larry Kershner at (515) 573-2141, Ext. 453 or at kersh@farm-news.com.

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