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It rained a lot, now what?

Article cover photo
An Iowa field is flooded after planting.

By Allie Arp, ISA research communications specialist

Agronomy experts urge farmers to be patient with the onslaught of rain in recent weeks and its planting delays. While many farm news sources have lamented the information, the more important issue what affects will it have, what could happen throughout the season and most importantly, what can farmers do about it?

The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) asked experts how farmers should respond to the latest weather trends and their answers may be comforting to Iowa farmers.

Farmers on the sidelines

For farmers who haven’t gotten in the field yet, multiple experts say not to rush when it comes to planting.

“Be patient and allow the soils to dry sufficiently before planting,” said Scott Nelson, ISA On-Farm Network director. “Planting when the soils are not fit results in sidewall compaction and other problems with stand establishment.”

This sentiment is echoed by Iowa State University (ISU) Extension field pathologist Alison Robertson who encourages farmers to not rush into fields, because when seed bed conditions are poor the risk of seedling diseases and stand loss increases substantially.

Farmers in the field

According to experts, farmers who got in the field before the rains should proceed with caution and pay close attention to their plant stand.

“Even if a farmer used a seed treatment, he should still get out and take stand counts,” said Robertson. “Research from the lab has shown that cool, wet conditions 48 to 96 hours after planting may increase the risk of seedling disease.”

Daren Mueller, ISU extension plant pathologist recommends farmers carefully scout their fields to determine if replanting is needed, and encourages them to reach out to the available resources for help in making their decision.

Potential resources include:

Midseason issues

Disease was one of the main issues cited by experts for farmers to worry about midseason based on recent weather.

“If seeds were planted early this may be setting up for sudden death syndrome (SDS) and white mold,” said Mueller. “But these diseases need the right conditions during the season too.”

Robertson agreed that if above average precipitation continues throughout the growing season it could cause an SDS issue. Rootless corn syndrome could also be a possibility for farmers who planted into wet conditions, according to Nelson.

Yield affect

It may be early but some farmers are already wondering how a late planting date or continued rain will affect their yields this fall. All of the experts say it’s too early to anticipate the worst.

“Soybeans have a remarkable ability to compensate,” Robertson said. “In areas with a low stand count, yields may be just as good or even better than areas where the stand count is good.  If the wet spring continues into summer and fall, then yes farmers may be concerned, especially if their fields have a history of SDS.”

Mueller agrees that there hasn’t been any weather that has damaged yield potential, yet. Especially with this pattern of weather expected to continue yield potential won’t be any different. Nelson adds that farmers should not consider changing the maturity or varieties of their hybrids at this time.

SCN issues

Nematologist and ISU professor Greg Tylka wants to assure farmers that despite what they may have heard, a wet spring won’t directly affect Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) pressure. SCN will remain dormant in soils, even water-logged soils, until soybean roots are available. Late planting may mean less overall SCN pressure because a shorter growing season will mean less turns of the life cycles (generations) of the pathogen.

Regardless of whether or not farmers have gotten in the field yet, experts say they can still have a great year.

“There is still time to raise excellent crops,” Nelson said. “Farmers should relax and be patient.”

For permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos contact Aaron Putze at

©2017 Iowa Soybean Association On-Farm Network®. All rights reserved. On-Farm Network® is a registered trademark of the Iowa Soybean Association, Ankeny, IA.Portions of some On-Farm Network trials are paid for in total or in part by the soybean checkoff.

Iowa Soybean Association | On-Farm Network | 1255 SW Prairie Trail Pkwy | Ankeny | IA | 50023 | US

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Iowa Soybean Review

August 2017 Contact Ann Clinton for past publications.