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Farmers welcome ideal spring planting conditions

By Staff | May 7, 2020

-Farm News photo by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby Planting moved fullspeed ahead in Calhoun County and beyond during the weekend of April 25-26. This field northwest of Lake City, farmed by Lynn Mohr and his crew was planted that weekend.



From only 2 % of the state’s corn crop planted last week to over a third of the corn acres planted this week, it’s obvious Mother Nature has decided to cooperate and allow producers to get their crops in, in what could be considered the most cooperative spring in years.

According to the Iowa Crop Progress and Conditions report for the week of April 20-27 released by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Iowa farmers planted over one-third of the expected corn crop during the week ending April 26, for a total of 39 percent planted.

“Farmers across Iowa have taken advantage of the warmer weather and widespread dry conditions over the past week,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “The state saw a substantial increase in corn and soybean acres planted, going from 2% last week to 39% with corn progress and 0% to 9% for soybean progress.”

This leap in progress was due to the 5.3 days that were suitable for field work during the week. It was mid-June before Iowa farmers had a week with 5.3 days suitable for fieldwork in 2019.

Soybean planting got underway with 9 % of the expected crop planted, 10 days ahead of last year and one week ahead of the average.

Only 20 % of Iowa’s expected oat crop remains to be planted, with just 22 % of the oat crop emerged.

Pasture condition rated 1% very poor, 7 % poor, 28 % fair, 54 % good and 10 % excellent. Cattle have been moved onto pastures in some areas. Warmer and drier conditions improved livestock conditions, according to the report.

Angie Rieck-Hinz, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach field agronomist for north central Iowa said during her travels from Clarion back to Story City late last week, she noticed a large majority of the corn planted and had heard that many producers were already done.

“Everybody I talk to say these are the best planting conditions we have had in two to three years,” she said. “In a lot of places, the soil conditions are so much better than what we have experienced the last few springs. People are totally amazed. I think it’s awesome. I just remind people that planting is the most important thing we do for crop production every year, so we want to get it right.”

Paul Kassel, ISU Extension and Outreach field agronomist covering Dickinson County down to Sac and Pocahontas County over to Winnebago and Hancock counties said on Monday he expected 60% of the corn was planted and 25% of the soybeans were planted in his area, adding that some soybean fields were even planted prior to Easter.

“There are a lot of folks that are nearly complete on both corn and soybeans,” he said. “Planting conditions have been really good – exceptional especially compared to 2018 or 2019.”

Kassel said his area, like much of the state hasn’t really experienced any issues except for battling wind.

“It was maybe a little windy for herbicide and UAN application, but other than that, it’s been really good conditions,” he said. “I would assume that we would see some corn and soybean emergence later this week with this warm weather and mid-50s for soil temperature.”

Good soil conditions and weather mean all good news for us right now, Rieck-Hinz said.

“We have good soil conditions and a couple of things happen as a result of that,” she said. “Planting itself, is easier – less wear and tear on equipment. It goes faster. We get more uniformed seed placement when conditions are good. So, that is all great because in the long run, that is what is going to help potential maximizing of yield.”

In terms of soil moisture, and if soil temperatures hold steady, Rieck-Hinz expects there is a good chance of getting corn and soybeans out of the ground a little bit faster which means they are less subject to below ground insect pressure as well as any seedling diseases.

Earlier planted crops

Rieck-Hinz said for those growers that started planting early in colder soil temperatures that had dropped back down into the 40s for a time, those fields need to be assessed.

“The crops that were planted really early, in less than ideal soil temperatures and moisture, we’re going to kind of want to watch for emergence and see how consistent our emergence is,” she said. “We tend to lose stand anyway in good conditions, but we want to make sure we’re evaluating those stands when those early planted corn and soybeans come up and making sure we are coming close to the target population. We lose yield potential when we have stand loss. If anything happened, if it was too cool or something started to leaf out underground, or all of sudden we get pounding rains on tilled soil and everything crusts up, we are going to want to look and see what happens to emergence.”

After a seamlessly orchestrated planting season, and assuming the crops emerge without issue what is next?

Rieck-Hinz said to keep an eye on any potential insect pressure.

ISU has placed their moth trapping network out throughout the state. Rieck-Hinz said as of late last week, she has only caught a few black cut worm moths and army worm moths in the traps she is monitoring.

“Cooler temperatures have slowed down a lot of flights, but with the recent southern winds, we might anticipate picking up some more moth action,” she said. “But, we haven’t seen high numbers or anything of overwhelming concern, yet.”

Those fields coming out of cover crops, need to be inspected for insects. And when it comes to those early emerging soybeans, Rieck-Hinz advises to be on the lookout for bean leaf beetles.

“Watch for the overwintering generation of bean leaf beetles. They are usually pretty sporadic, we have them every spring, but some areas seem to have issues, but not in every area, but because our beans are being planted so early this year, we are going to want to keep an eye on those early planted beans that emerge earlier than other places for that overwintering generation of bean leaf beetles.”

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