Weather delays planting
WORTHINGTON -- The clouds just can't seem to pass by southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa these days without leaving behind cool days and rain showers -- two things farmers don't need as they continue to get this year's crops in the field.
Despite being one week beyond the May 10 optimum planting date for corn in this region, Worthington's Extension crops educator Liz Stahl said farmers may not be destined for low yields if they have yet to plant all of their corn seed.
"Last year, we were looking at a real challenging planting season, too," Stahl said. "(Although) it wasn't as wet into May as it is this year, we had phenomenal yields. If we could get some more heat, that would really turn things around.
"Around here, there are enough acres to go in that there is a concern," she added.
The concern is warranted, according to statistics. Stahl said data shows corn planted by May 15 -- just five days beyond the optimal planting deadline -- can result in harvesting 91 percent of a farmer's potential yield. When the planting date is pushed back to May 25, the potential yield drops to 88 percent
"It still does pay to get that corn in there, of course," Stahl said, adding that producers can look at replacing their seed with different maturity options if available.
"You have to see what you can get. Supply is limited," she said.
In Osceola County, Iowa, Extension educator Ron Hook said farmers there are also turning to shorter maturity seed because of the spring rains.
"We've been pretty wet," Hook said on Wednesday afternoon. "There's some beans going in, but there's some corn that needs to be planted yet."
Hook said Mother Nature hasn't cooperated in drying out the soil since a storm dumped three inches of rain on northwest Iowa a few weeks ago.
"When we got close to drying out, we'd get another quick shower," he said.
Statewide, Hook said a "fair amount" of corn has been planted, and in northwest Iowa, where more rain has fallen, some farmers are opting to plant soybeans where they intended to plant corn.
Stahl said she hasn't heard of many farmers starting their soybean planting, although traditionally the soybean crop goes in as soon as the corn is planted.
"You don't take as much of a yield hit with later planted soybeans as you do with corn," Stahl said. Soybeans planted by May 15 have a maximum yield potential of 97 percent. The potential yield drops to 94 percent if planted by May 20, and 91 percent if it's in the ground by May 25.
"You still get your hit, but it's not as much as corn," Stahl said. "Soybeans you can plant out to the end of June -- you don't want to, but if you have to, you can. They can adapt more than corn would with the late planting."
For those who had to plant corn in wet areas, Stahl said they will need to keep an eye on the crops for standability issues later on.
She cautions farmers not to be too quick to replant areas where water may have impacted the crop.
"A poor stand planted early will usually out-yield a good stand planted late," Stahl said.
There's a difference, however, in planting crops in a somewhat wet soil and mudding them in. Stahl said farmers who do the latter could see compaction issues and restricted root development.
"If you don't get decent root development, you can have stand issues later in the season," said Stahl. Those areas, she said, should be harvested earlier come fall.
This spring's wet weather, in addition to delaying crop planting, has also kept many farmers from getting their pre-emergence herbicide on in time, Stahl said. Fortunately, the cool weather so far has also slowed weed growth.
"You will have to get post-emergence (herbicide) out there before (the weeds) start affecting yields," she added.