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Planting well ahead of schedule for farmers

Planting well ahead of schedule for farmers
A farmer uses an air-fed 16-row planter to put corn seeds in the ground on land south of Charles City in this Press file photo.
By James Grob,

With all the problems going on in the world, this was an ideal time for spring planting to go smoothly for Iowa farmers.

“It looks like it’s been a good spring,” said Terry Basol, field agronomist and crop specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, who works out of Nashua. “I think for once we’re finally ahead, compared to the last couple of years, when we were kind of behind the 8-ball at this point.”

According to this week’s Iowa Crop Progress and Condition report, released by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Iowa farmers have planted 96% of the expected corn crop, nearly a month ahead of last year and almost three weeks ahead of the five-year average. The soybean crop moved to 86% planted, also nearly a month ahead of last year and three weeks ahead of average.

Only southwestern Iowa has over 10% of corn remaining to be planted, while farmers in the northern one-third of Iowa have less than 10% of their soybeans left to plant, according to the report.

In other words, planting is pretty much done, and Basol called it a “great year.”

“There have been some isolated reports of soybeans that had emerged that were nipped by that cold temperature that we had on May 9,” he said, although he added that most crops weren’t hurt by the unusual cold, and agronomically it shouldn’t hurt the yield for corn or soybeans.

Any early soybean crops that were lost could be replanted, according to Basol.

According to the report, corn emergence improved to 62% in Iowa, almost double that of the previous week, and one-fourth of the soybean crop has emerged.

Basol said that in this corner of the state, emergence was visible as early as the middle of last week.

“You don’t have to look hard to find corn crops that have emerged,” he said. “There are also some soybean fields where you can see them emerging.”

Basol said that now farmers should be assessing their pre-planting herbicides to determine the right time for post-herbicide application.

“In the next few weeks, we’ll start seeing some of that,” he said. “We’ve received some needed rain in recent days.”

Basol said that after that, farmers would be applying some field applications and side grass, and then monitoring the fields for cutworm activity.

He said some more nice, timely rains would also be helpful for farmers.

“Right now, we’re sitting pretty good,” Basol said. “We need some warmer temperatures to get everything up and running and emerged, but I like where we’re at this spring.”