Farmers in some parts of the state have had success wit

Farmers in some parts of the state have had success with planting while others are struggling to get their crops in. (Photo credit: Jocyln Bushman/Iowa Soybean Association).

Delayed but not denied

May 19, 2022 | Kriss Nelson

As the saying goes, “make hay while the sun shines,” and farmers have taken advantage of improved conditions to get the 2022 crop planted.

According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service’s weekly crop report, there were 5.2 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending May 15.

Thirty-four percent of the state’s soybeans have been planted as of May 15, two weeks behind last year and one week behind the five-year average. Only 3% of the soybeans have emerged, bringing that total to 10 days behind last year and six days behind average.

Farmers planted 43% of Iowa’s expected corn crop to reach 57% planted, two weeks behind last year and nine days behind the five-year average. Eight percent of the corn crop has emerged, 11 days behind last year and nine days behind average.

Noah Fedders, Ireton

On his Sioux County farm, Noah Fedders finished his planting on Wednesday.

He completed planting soybeans on April 27 before switching to corn. This is the second year Fedders has planted soybeans early.

“Last year, our early-planted soybeans yielded really well,” he says, adding soybeans have more vigor to withstand the cool, early-season conditions than corn.

“We always had it in our head to plant our corn as early as possible. It just seemed like whenever we would do that, we would get a cold snap,” he says. “Our thought process is to give the corn a better opportunity to not be in the ground as long by waiting a little longer to plant.”

Fedders says spring has gone smoothly with only a few rain delays. The rain has left his fields in excellent condition.

“It all planted nice, it was dry when we started, but I think we have more topsoil moisture this spring than last spring,” he says. “Everything is growing; we have good seed-depth moisture.”

Although most of Sioux County is rated abnormally dry based on the recent U.S. drought monitor, Fedders is confident conditions will allow them to go a while before needing rain.

“We are still considered dry, but our tile lines are running,” he says. “My gut feeling tells me we are in a better place this year than last year.”

Rain may not have been an issue, but Fedders’ farm received damage from a windstorm in April, and they were also in the path of last week’s haboob, an intense dust storm. Fortunately, they were spared any damage to their crops and buildings, but neighboring farms lost roofs to cattle and hog barns as well as some sheds.

AJ Blair, Dayton

Webster County farmer AJ Blair expects to finish planting this week.

The Blairs started drilling soybeans into their cover crops while also planting corn, boosting planted acres despite a delayed spring.

“Once we got started, we could keep moving,” he says. “It just took a long time to get started.”

The chilly beginning to spring deterred cover crop growth, but Blair says they are finally off to a good start.

To allow some of the cover crop acres a chance to grow, soybeans were planted into the standing cover crops and Blair is planning on terminating those cover crops next week.

Due to insects, they have experienced a loss at the first cutting of their alfalfa the past two years. Blair says he is planning on applying insecticide to hopefully alleviate that problem this year.

Blair says the wind needs to cooperate to accomplish the rest of his pre-emergence, future post-emergence and insecticide applications.

“That has been a bigger concern - being able to get spraying done,” he says. “If there is no wind, you have to stop everything, even planting, and spend the day spraying because you don’t know when you will have that day again.”

Blair says he is optimistic about 2022.

“It’s a little bit later, but we have pushed planting into June before, which was tough,” he says. “The weather the rest of the summer will have more to do with yields than the planting date.”

Aimee Bissell, Bedford

This week brought a deluge of rain to the Bissell farm in Taylor County. The family received three inches of rain in 30 minutes.

This week, Aimee Bissell reported they are 43% finished with their corn, only 25% of their soybeans are planted, and the forecast is showing more rain coming this weekend.

“We have been plagued with rain,” she says. “If this weather pattern stays through July and August, it will be amazing, but it is posing some problems for right now.”

The sun comes out long enough to help dry the topsoil, but  the soils remain wet underneath the residue in their no-till fields.

“We just can’t get enough sun,” she says. “We are forced to plant into some conditions that aren’t necessarily ideal.”

Last week’s record-breaking temperatures and wind brought with it a new concern.

“Those seeds planted in cold soil were trying to come through, but there were issues with soil crusting,” she says.

Bissell says they are on alert seeing bean leaf beetles in their fields – even those not yet planted.

“We will be looking for disease where it is was so wet, and now we will be watching out for insect pressure,” she says.

Although frustrated, the Bissells are not discouraged.

“We are looking at a yield lag this year, but with that being said, maybe we will have the perfect July and August,” she says. “Who knows what this will be like in October? We are just not anticipating bumper crops this year.”

Jeff and Paula Ellis, Donnellson

Lee County farmers Jeff and Paula Ellis have had enough of the wet weather – an issue that has plagued this planting season and is a continuation of a very damp 2021.

“We were extremely wet all last year,” says Paula Ellis, noting that southeast Iowa’s weather is often much different than other parts of the state, which endured drought conditions.

Because the Ellises utilize no-till practices, the acres where they plant corn were drier and they began planting corn before tackling soybeans, finishing that work on May 17. They plan to start planting 600 acres of soybeans on May 19.

Along with the desire for drier weather this year, Ellis says they are also mindful of prices in 2022.

“You know, I know prices are high on everything – chemicals and fertilizer. We decided to cut back on some of our input costs.”

With that in mind, however, the Ellises are not cutting back on nitrogen this planting season. Paula says they remain upbeat crops will fare well in 2022.

“(Market) prices are good right now. We’re very hopeful we can get everything we can out of this season.”

So far, the corn the Ellises planted last week has already emerged, and if “Mother Nature cooperates, we’re optimistic.”

While there will always be a certain amount of uncertainty in farming, Paula says they’re “just glad things are going well, and that makes you feel good.”

Jeff Hutton contributed to this story