The Ottumwa Courier

April 16, 2014

Southern Iowa farmers preparing for planting

Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — Even though the winter seemed to linger like Iowa was going through an ice age and cold and wet weather has highlighted the early spring, farmers are starting to get out to their fields to put down fertilizer and get fields ready for planting.

Despite reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture stating the planting season is going abnormally slow for farmers across America’s Corn Belt, southern Iowa has experienced an all right season so far.

According to a report by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, farmers in the south central district of Iowa had four suitable days to do fieldwork during the first week of April, by far more than the rest of the state, which came in at 1.7 days.

Mark Carlton, Crops Field Specialist with the Iowa State University Extension Office, said farmers in southern Iowa have had the chance to get quite a bit of work done over the past few weeks, and there was even corn planted.

He did admit this year might be a little slower than previous years, but there shouldn’t be any worry as long as the weather stays normal.

“We may be later than we were last year or the year before, but, according to our research, if we plant corn between April 17 and May 5 we have 97 percent of yield potential,” Carlton said.

Even the earlier planted corn still has 95 percent yield potential, according to Carlton, so as long as the weather can obey, farmers shouldn’t see a problem with corn.

As far as beans go, Carlton said as long as they can get planted in the later part of April or mid-May they should also be close to a 100 percent yield.

“Beans are pretty flexible,” he said. “Farmers usually focus on corn first.”

The only foreseeable issue that farmers could face this spring will be the weather. While farmers might be a little behind on the planting schedule this year as opposed to the last few, there is some leeway they can use if Mother Nature cooperates and keeps from dumping sheets of rain on southern Iowa.

“The majority of farmers are ready to plant, now we just need some dry weather,” Carlton said.

— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh