As farmers wrap up planting for the 2022 growing season

As farmers wrap up planting for the 2022 growing season. It is time to switch focus on emergence, weeds and potential disease pressure. (Photo: Jocyln Bushman/Iowa Soybean Association).

Slowly but surely, planting progresses

May 31, 2022 | Kriss Nelson

Although the task of the 2022 planting season is drawing to a close, challenges remain as farmers wait for crops to emerge and switch their focus on disease and weed management.

“It is time to check for emergence and stands,” says Anthony Martin, Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) senior field services program manager.

There are various factors that could affect emergence, including flooding, frost and soil crusting, Martin says.

“A few growers have had to replant some corn acres due to crusting and this could continue to be an issue for those fields planted late last week after Sunday night’s rain and a dry forecast,” says Drew Clemmensen ISA field services program manager.

Joe Wuebker, ISA conservation agronomist in the west-central region of the state, says there has been some insect presence.

“Bugs are starting to be prevalent,” Wuebker says. “If we start seeing high counts of rootworm beetles this early, which I have already seen on the windshield, it is usually not a good sign.”

Clemmensen, who serves ISA farmer-members in southwest Iowa, says bean leaf beetles were beginning to become a concern in early emerging soybean fields but seem to become less of an issue as soybeans emerged.

As far as any disease pressure, Wuebker says it could be a little too early in the season. Farmers should not let their guard down, however, especially with any future heavy rainfall.

Scott Nelson, ISA senior field services program manager, says June is prime time for weed scouting.

“A smaller-sized weed is much easier to manage than a larger-sized weed,” Nelson says.

June is also time to be on the lookout for soybean gall midge.

“Farmers in the western third of Iowa could start scouting for soybean gall midge in mid-June,” Nelson says. “There is nothing they can do about them except document the field was infested and make plans for preplant insecticide for next year.”

Ryan Johnson, conservation agronomist in northwest Iowa, says temperatures dropped to 30 degrees on May 22, prompting producers to keep a close eye on low spots and areas along waterways for frost damage.

“I have heard of a few people replanting beans in fields planted the last week of April,” says Johnson.

Crop conditions

Alex Schaffer, ISA field services program manager, applauds technology and efficiencies that come with today’s modern farm equipment for planting progress this spring despite weather challenges.

“Equipment is invested in with years like this in mind,” says Schaffer. “When Mother Nature acts like she has this spring, the proper equipment to get planting done quickly can be a farm saver. A lot of yield and troubles throughout the season can be saved with timely planting.”

In addition to any replants, Schaffer says farmers are beginning to shift focus on side-dressing corn and postemergence herbicide applications.

Some dry weather at this point in the growing season will allow those tasks to be completed but could also benefit crops – especially corn.

“This is the part of the season where a little bit of dry weather keeps the roots moving through the soil profile chasing moisture,” says Schaffer. “This can show big benefits later in the season, especially standability of corn in the fall.”

Martin says most of the areas in northeast Iowa are planted, with some producers able to apply postemergence herbicide last week.

Martin has been doing some emergence testing where soybeans were slow to come up due to cooler weather. Some early emerged soybeans also showed signs of frost damage, but it appears they will recover.

As far as trials in his area, Martin says they have been doing soil temperature and moisture studies in various pre-plant conditions, including conventional tillage, no-till, cover crops and strip-till.

After cool weather delayed planting, Johnson and his family finished planting in mid-May. Despite dry conditions, crops seem to be progressing in his area, Johnson says.

“If we get some timely rains, it appears we will have a good crop,” says Johnson.

The wind could become a significant impediment for farmers.

“Weed pressure continues to be a concern with the lack of good spraying days,” says Clemmensen. “Conditions have pushed spraying later, and therefore larger weed heights will continue to be harder to control.”

Rosie Roberts, ISA conservation agronomist in far northwest Iowa, says planting has been off to a slow start, but for different reasons than the majority of the state.

“For April, we were relatively dry and cold, and for May, we warmed up well before we started accumulating more rainfall,” Roberts says.

On the U.S. Drought Monitor, Roberts says they have been in the abnormally dry category throughout May but welcomed the much-needed precipitation over the weekend. The area was in the “severe”

“Areas of my region received anywhere from 0.5 to 2.5 inches,” Robert says. “Driving around Tuesday morning, most of our corn is between VE-V3 stage.”

Soybeans are lagging.

“Some haven’t emerged yet, and the biggest I’ve seen are in the VC stage, around two-inches tall,” she says.

Cover crops

Johnson says the cool conditions made cover crop termination in his area difficult earlier in the season.

“At this point, most of the cover crops have been terminated, which is probably the best since we lack moisture,” Johnson says.

Having coverage helped this spring.

“I was glad to have cover crops on our farm to hold the soil in place since we were excessively windy this year,” Johnson says.

This spring, Johnson hosted a cover crop tour and documented cover crop growth and termination progression. By clicking on this link: Cherokee County Cover Crop Tour - Google My Maps, you will photos and updates as crops emerge.

Roberts says it’s essential to monitor the success rate of a cover crop termination.

“Whether it’s mechanical like roller crimping or chemical, it’s important to ensure the cover crop responds to the termination method,” says Roberts.

Is it truly a late season?

Although it has been a frustrating start to the 2022 growing season, Wuebker says the timing is not far off.

“This year is slightly behind the last four years, but we are also going into the season with decent moisture compared to the last couple of years,” Wuebker says.

As of May 29, 85% of the expected soybean crop had been planted, 11 days behind last year but 6 days ahead of the 5-year average. Forty-five percent of soybeans have emerged, 8 days behind last year and 1 day behind the average, according to the Iowa Crop Progress and Condition Report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Martin says there was a lot of stress leading into the first few weeks of May.

“The weather wasn’t necessarily cooperating with getting the crop in, and it’s hard to look at the calendar and not get anxious,” Martin says. “Thankfully, things warmed up, and farmers were able to run, with some burning the midnight oil to get most of the crop in.”