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A steady warm up is needed

By Staff | May 13, 2019



Farmers made great strides last week in getting the corn crop planted, with 15 percent of the corn crop planted during the week ending May 5.

Iowa growers have now planted 36 percent of the expected crop, which is one day behind last year and five days behind the five-year average, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Iowa Crop Progress and Condition report.

However, planting progress has been hit and miss.

Angie Rieck-Hinz, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach field agronomist, said she is seeing areas where 50 to 60 percent of the corn is planted. But in other areas to the north, maybe only 10 percent of the corn acres are planted.

“I think a lot of it just depends on the farmer,” she said. “Some of them are not in a hurry. They are willing to wait and some of them have a lot of acres and have been planting. But a lot of it is due to the rainfall that has been so spotty.”

Northwest and northeast Iowa farmers have less than 20 percent of their corn planted, according to the NASS report.

Mid-April allowed for an opportunity for several producers to finish what was left over from last fall and get a jump on spring work.

“We had a window where we got spring tillage done and a lot of anhydrous went out,” Rieck-Hinz said. “There are people that were able to get tillage done that couldn’t get tillage done last fall and there are people that have commented they are going to try no-till – planting their corn right into their bean stubble without tillage. There are going to be people who try it to save time by not doing as much tillage.”

With the roller coaster ride of weather bringing warm ups followed by cool, wet conditions, that have impacted the spring of 2019 season, is there any concern about the crop that is in the ground?

Rieck-Hinz said although the corn that was put into the ground a month ago, around that April 16 date, hasn’t received many growing degree days, she believes those early plantings will be fine.

“I think it is doing ok,” she said. “The seed is still viable; it’s doing its thing. We just need some heat to get it out of the ground.”

Corn that was put into the ground just a short week and a half later could be one to keep an eye on.

“Those that planted April 26 and 27 – before the temperature dropped and the cold rain that came over that weekend – we will want to keep an eye on germination and emergence,” she said. “Some producers actually stopped planting that Friday due to concerns of the temperature dropping and the cold rain coming and then there were people that kept planting. We are just going to have to see how the stuff that got planted did. It’s a little early to know what it’s going to do.”

When the air temperatures rise and fall, so do the soil temps.

Rieck-Hinz said some soil temperatures in central Iowa reached up into the 60s last month before the cool rains that dropped them down into the 40s.

Does this bring any concern about planting soybeans?

Rieck-Hinz said soil temperatures should start to increase into the second week of May, making it a safer option to continue to not only plant corn, but soybeans as well.

“If people can get in the field, and soil conditions are right, I would say it is time to plant soybeans,” she said.

According to NASS, 8 percent of the expected soybean crop has been planted, which is two days behind last year and the average.

Early season pests and disease concerns

Rieck-Hinz said if conditions continue to stay cool and wet, producers will need to be on the lookout for seedling diseases.

“Not so much at a germination standpoint, but from more when the soybeans and corn is small,” she said, adding it’s important to also be ready to scout for black cutworms and army worms.

“We had some significant army worm outbreaks last year in cover crop fields, so we are trapping for them this year to see if we have a major flight,” she said. “I know we have had an army worm and cutworm flights into the state with Minnesota having higher counts than we have.”

Army worms in cover crop acres become a concern because they lay eggs in the cereal rye grass.

“Then when we terminate that rye grass and they are going to hatch and go look for grass to eat, so if the corn is up, they are going to be looking for corn,” she said. “Soybeans aren’t their first preference; they’re going to be looking for corn, brome grass and ditch grass. We are going to be keeping an eye out for that.”

“As we get more cover crop acres, that count potentially be a pest we just need to keep an annual lookout for.”

Pasture conditions

The weather has affected pasture growth as well, according to Rieck-Hinz.

The NASS report stated pasture conditions are rated 61 percent good to excellent and even with the slow pasture growth, cattle have been turned out into pastures.

“We have had some really slow pasture growth this spring,” she said. “It’s just been cool, so pastures are slow. They have greened up but the growth has been kind of slow for alfalfa and other forages. Just hope it gets warm.”

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