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Weather impeding planting progress

Article cover photo
The Iowa Crop Progress and Condition report, issued Monday from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service, showed there were just 2.8 days suitable for fieldwork last week. (Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association

By Bethany Baratta, ISA senior writer

 Recent wet weather—and more forecast this week—has kept many Iowa farmers out of the fields. The Iowa Crop Progress and Condition report, issued Monday from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service, showed there were just 2.8 days suitable for fieldwork last week. Below-normal temperatures also slowed crop emergence, the report said.

 Eight percent of Iowa’s soybean crop has been planted, two days behind last year and the five-year average, the report said.

 Though behind average, there’s still plenty of time to plant a high-yielding crop, said the Iowa Soybean Association’s (ISA) On-Farm Network® Director Scott Nelson. Data from Iowa State University’s (ISU) Soybean Planting Decision Tool (funded by ISA) shows that yield penalty for delayed planting in central Iowa does not increase until the last half of May, Nelson said.

 In crop model simulations for soybeans in southern Iowa, yield penalty for delayed planting does not increase until the middle of May. The simulation for soybeans in northern Iowa shows yield penalty for delayed planting does not increase until the last week of May, according to ISU research.

 “The biggest mistake that can be made is to rush into fields that are too wet to achieve planting by a calendar date,” Nelson said. “Like all of farming, patience in waiting for fields to dry is the key to success in 2019.”

 As of May 5, the central district of the state had 15 percent of its soybean crop planted. In northwest Iowa, just 1 percent had completed soybean planting, according to the report.

 An ISU dataset being sent for scientific journal review suggests May 20 is a critical time for soybean planting, said Mark Licht, assistant professor and Extension cropping systems specialist at  ISU.

 “Beyond May 20, while you can get good yield potential, you also have the potential to get much lower yields,” Licht said.

 If planting soybeans in May, farmers should be able to stick with their original seed selections. Soybean farmers who gets pushed to mid-June to plant could look at a 1.8 or 1.9 maturity in northern Iowa or a 2.6 or 2.7 maturity in southern Iowa, while staying within seed choices which are adapted to Iowa climate and conditions.

 Soil temperatures should still be a major consideration when planting, Licht said. Though 60 degrees is said to be the ideal soil temperature for planting soybeans, cooler temperatures don’t have as much of a detrimental effect on soybeans as it does corn, Licht said.

Maybe just as important is the weather forecast after the seed is planted, Licht said.

 “What we really want to see is steady or warming soil temperatures the first 24 to 48 hours after planting, “Licht said. “It’s a key time for the seed, and we don’t want to put stress on it as it’s germinating.

 Here’s what farmers are saying about current planting conditions:

 Reed Burres, Humboldt: “We haven’t had perfect growing weather or planting weather by any means; intermittent rain has impeded the planting season. Once soil temperatures hit the mid-50s (degrees), we made the decision to get beans planted.” Burres and his father finished planting soybeans on May 5.

 Andrew Lauver, Rockwell City: “We finished planting corn, and we were able to get most of our soybeans planted this past weekend (May 5 and 6). After prime planting conditions, we had about 1 inch of rain in about 20 minutes, so we’re hoping we don’t see any crusting in the soil. We have about 160 acres of soybeans left to plant.”

 Contact Bethany Baratta at bbaratta@iasoybeans.com.

For media inquiries, please contact Katie Johnson, ISA Public Relations Manager at kjohnson@iasoybeans.com or Aaron Putze, ISA Communications Director at aputze@iasoybeans.com

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