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Taylor: 2013 paralleling 1947

By Staff | Jun 7, 2013

DR. ELWYNN TAYLOR, ISU Extension climatologist, explained to more than 250 producers and industry professionals, the 2013 crop year is matching up to the 1947 crop year, which became one of the six worse cropping years in state history.

HUMBOLDT- More than 250 producers and industry professionals turned out for a prevented planting meeting in Humboldt on May 31.

Brent Kuehnast, a Humboldt-area farmer and Humboldt County Farm Bureau board member, said, “Some of our biggest concerns are understanding our deadlines for reporting things, also crop insurance and the agronomic side of things on how we can produce the best crop from here on out.

“Several of us on the board got inquiries wondering about any meetings being planned so we decided it would be best to get something set up.”

Kuehnast said he hoped farmers would see they are not alone in dealing with delayed or prevented planting conditions and that there are options to get through this.

Weather outlook

Dr. Elwynn Taylor, Iowa State University climatologist, said that in 2012, with the drought, he claimed it would take three years of average weather to get subsoil water levels built back up.

But instead, it happened in one month this spring.

“We have had 300 percent of the average normal precipitation in May this year,” said Taylor.

So far, the 2013 season is a replica of the 1947 growing season, one of the six worse in Iowa history.

“We have seen persistence in years when it is doing what it did before,” Taylor said, “It will more likely keep doing what it’s doing and not changing.”

According to Taylor, 2013 is almost a carbon copy of the year 1947.

1947 was the same year, he said, with a record snowfall in May and also had an extreme warm up of close to 100 degree temperatures shortly after.

“One extreme brings another,” said Taylor. “Extreme years are typically not good crop years.”

Taylor added that extreme weather conditions typically brings to the forefront diseases, insects and weeds that are adapted to extreme conditions.

1947, he said, was also cooler than usual. Iowa is “behind the growing degree units like they were at this time,” Taylor said. “That year, it stayed wet and cool until July 1 before the rain quit and it stayed dry and warmer until Sept 1.

Since the two years are parallel in weather, there is a definite possibility they will continue through the growing season.

As for soil drying out enough to get back into fields, Taylor said a hot, sunny, windy day will dry about the top inch and a half of soil, while the rest, will remain wet, so to proceed with caution.

“To get soil dry with no plants in it, what we need to get soil to the right moisture to plant is days,” said Taylor. “It doesn’t matter if it is sunny or cloudy, the soil needs to drain.”

As far as what is forecasted, Taylor said, it is hard to predict when planting may resume.

“Forecasts beyond three days are just guesses at this point,” he said. “We are not in a forecastable situation.”

Cropping options

John Holmes, an ISU field agronomist finished his long career with ISU Extension discussing later planting options for corn and soybeans as well as what can be expected throughout the rest of the spring.

According to an ISU study, Holmes said, if producers are considering planting corn after June 11, it is recommended to switch to a 93- to 98-day hybrid. Planting corn after June 25, the average yield potential can be expected to reach 99.6 bushels per acre compared to 187 bushels per acre when planted from April 30 through mid May.

There is a lot to consider before making the decision to switch from planting corn to planting soybeans in those acres that have been dedicated for corn.

Holmes said some corn herbicides that have been applied to the soil may prevent soybeans from being planted and the possible yield potential that comes along with planting beans on beans, skipping the rotation of corn.

Conditions for the disease phytophthora, Holmes said, are favorable, so he advises treating soybean seed and scouting for that and other diseases such as such as brown stem rot and soybean cyst nematode.

Mitch Montgomery, area agronomist for north central Iowa for Pioneer Hi-Bred told row-croppers that from June 5 through June 15 has potential for high growing degree units and advised “to stay the course with planting corn,” but after June 9, said it would be best to switch to a 95-day hybrid.

More importantly, Montgomery said, discuss all options with seed dealers.

“Not every corn rate maturity is created equal,” he said. “Talk to dealers, they have everything you need to help you.”

Switching acres

Before giving up on planting corn and switching over to beans, Montgomery said growers should consider the gross economics involved, especially if nitrogen has been applied, if herbicides allow the switch and diseases that come along with planting beans on beans.

Montgomery reminded producers that “labels are the law,” and to read chemical labels about switching crops and talk to suppliers.

For those planned soybean acres, Montgomery said there is really no advantage to switching to an earlier maturity until after June 15. After that date, he said switching to a soybean variety of 0.5 to 1.0 shorter maturity group is recommended.

An issue with switching over to an earlier maturity is they might not have the genetics needed for the field.

“The genetics are not always available in earlier maturities,” he said.

Montgomery recommended increasing the seeding rate by 10 percent after June 7. The increased plant density will hasten canopy closure, making the soybeans taller and increasing the number of pods per acre. An earlier canopy, he added, can also help suppress weeds.

Nitrate loss

The rain frequency this spring has leached nitrates from soil, Montgomery said.

To help determine nitrate loss, Montgomery said it is important to know what source of nitrogen was used, when it was applied.

“Knowing when the nitrogen was applied, and what fertilizer was used, enables the estimation of the quality of nitrogen in the nitrate form when rainfall occurred,” he said.

It is important the nitrogen is there for the uptake phase and for grain fill.

“We are losing more during those rains and we need to be looking at supplementing, we need to feed the crop,” said Montgomery.

FSA reporting

Humboldt County Farm Services Agency executive director Gary Yoch spoke to the group on programs and upcoming deadlines for registering crops.

When it comes to switching acres over to another crop, Yoch said, the rules are friendly and suggested producers report consistently to FSA what they report to their crop insurance agents.

“So before you certify,” Yoch said, “talk to your crop insurance agent first before certifying preventive failed corn.”

As far as disaster relief, Yoch said nothing has been put into place, but counties have been reporting what has been going on, which gets the ball rolling for legislation to be made, but he is not guaranteeing that will be done.

Cover crop option

Allison Orr, district conservationist with the NRCS in Humboldt said her office is prepared to help producers with any cover cropping needs if the planting delays continue and they are unable to get their crops planted.

“We can help you develop a mix for you that will best suit your needs,” she said.

Those cover crop mixes can be planted for livestock use or for erosion control

Montgomery agreed that using a cover crop is essential if crops cannot be planted.

“If you are prevented from planting, do not leave those fields black,” he said.

The Humboldt prevented planting meeting was hosted in part by the Humboldt County Farm Bureau, ISU Extension, Farm Credit Services, Bank of Iowa, First State Bank, Northwest Bank and U.S. Bank, all of Humboldt.

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