2024 Spring Planting Progress Varies

Planters Rolling for Most DTN Farmer Advisory Group Members

Jason Jenkins
By  Jason Jenkins , DTN Crops Editor
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Taylor Nelson planted 40% of his soybeans in northeast Nebraska near South Sioux Falls last week before receiving up to 5 inches of rain that put fieldwork on hold. (Photo courtesy of Taylor Nelson)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (DTN) -- Spring planting ramped up in earnest this past week across portions of the Midwest and the South, though some regions are still waiting for warmer, drier soil before getting into the field this season.

According to the USDA Crop Progress Report released April 22, 12% of corn nationwide had been planted, equaling last year's pace and ahead of the five-year average of 10%. In some states, some corn could already be rowed as 3% of the crop had emerged.

Progress on soybean planting also mirrored 2023, reaching 8% in the USDA report, the same as last year and double the five-year average of 4% planted.

Depending on their location, many members of the DTN Farmer Advisory Group -- a panel of roughly two dozen farmers, ranchers and agronomists who report on crop conditions and current thoughts about agriculture -- have been in the field while others are anxiously awaiting the opportunity.

Here's a quick snapshot of what the group reported when queried by DTN editors late last week:

MARYLAND

Jennie Schmidt of Sudlersville reported they had already received 20 inches of rain in 2024, which is half of their normal rainfall for the year. The wet conditions have put them behind on spring fieldwork, forcing them to "skirt around low bottoms that aren't usually low bottoms."

This year, the Schmidts are raising corn, soybeans (both identity-preserved high-oleic and commodity), soft red winter wheat, lima beans, green beans and wine grapes. She said the wheat, planted last October, looked good despite delayed top dressing due to the wet field conditions.

"Right now, we are in the midst of a vineyard renovation having ripped out seven acres over the winter and now planting new vines," she said. "Other tasks are top dressing wheat, spreading poultry litter, burning down cover crops. We hope to have the planter running middle of the week with full-season beans."

INDIANA

Scott Wallis grows corn and soybeans near Princeton in southwest Indiana. While they were able to plant some soybean acres at the end of March, nearly 4 inches of rain in April had kept them out of the field.

"We planted 20% of our bean crop on March 29 and 30, and they are up and looking pretty good," he said. "No corn in the ground so far."

The Wallis family plans to keep plantings in 2024 like last year with the biggest change being the addition of Xyway fungicide to all their corn acres.

ILLINOIS

Jared Kunkle farms in western Illinois outside of Monmouth, raising a corn-soybean rotation with a 60-40 split this year with only one field of corn following corn. He said that while he's planted a few soybeans so far, the biggest challenges this spring have been the temperatures and rain.

"It has been pretty hit-or-miss with the rain, and I held off planting too many soybeans because there was a chance of heavy rain with some storm chances," he said. "Luckily, we didn't have any storms and the rain came nicely."

Kunkle hoped to get back in the field to start on corn this week. He said he felt good about where they sat in terms of soil moisture. "It would be nice to have a decent planting window to get the crop planted," he added.

IOWA

Ray Gaesser farms with his son and daughter-in-law, Chris and Shannon, in southwest Iowa near Corning. He said that until last week when they received 2.4 inches of rain, it had been a drier-than-normal spring.

"I've been surprised that our drain tile has been running if only a trickle," he said. "Our soil profile now is near normal to a little less than normal."

Last week, the Gaessers had about 10% of their corn planted. They raise soybean seed, so they were holding off on planting to avoid any replanting issues.

"Several farmers in our area have planted soybeans and corn," Gaesser said. "Some are almost finished. Some haven't started."

He added that they are raising more rye to sell as cover crop seed and supply a local distillery.

"It's fun and provides an alternate crop and rotation," Gaesser said. "Soil health and water quality are a plus, too."

AJ and Kellie Blair farm in central Iowa near Dayton, roughly 125 miles north of the Gaessers. They also raise seed beans along with corn, alfalfa and oats. Kellie said they were anticipating a dry spring, but 2 inches of rain last week and more in the forecast generated optimism.

"We started planting a week ago, got all of the kinks out and are ready to go full force once the weather warms up and dries out," she said.

MINNESOTA

In south-central Minnesota, Mark Nowak farms near Wells, raising a corn-soybean rotation to be split 55-45 in 2024. He said that as of last week, they had not planted a single acre and that was true for about 98% of his area.

"We're waiting for warmer days to keep soil temperatures closer to 50 degrees (Fahrenheit)," he said. "It's interesting that there are more soybeans planted so far."

He said it had been very windy for several days, which was a challenge for applying pre-plant herbicide. His fields had received 1.4 to 1.8 inches of rain last week, which was also enough to get his tiles running.

"So, when we do get to planting, we're good for moisture now to get started," Nowak said. "The growing degree forecast for the next two weeks is below average with plenty of rain forecast. A once-early planting may turn normal or possibly even later than desired. May 10 is the breaking point for yield loss on corn in our area."

NEBRASKA

In northeast Nebraska outside South Sioux City, Taylor Nelson had 40% of his soybeans and 5% of his corn planted last week before heavy rains varying from 1 to 5 inches fell, keeping him out of the fields for a few days. He noted his area has been very dry the past couple of years.

"We were running a pretty significant deficit going into the year, so the extra rain has been welcome," he said. "Rains will still have to be timely this season with a depleted subsoil."

Except for adding new corn hybrids containing traits to protect against corn rootworm, Nelson said his crop rotation is consistent and his overall program is the same as in 2023.

About 75 miles south in Blair, Nebraska, Ashley Andersen echoed the same concerns about moisture for their corn and soybean rotation.

"We are still dry. It's the story of the past few years," she said. "Rain looks promising and it's headed our way. Then poof! It just breaks up and goes around us. We are in a circle where it just won't rain here. Year No. 3, and it's not getting better."

Andersen said they've planted beans for a few days, but no corn so far. She noted that field conditions were acceptable. "It is planting really, really well," she added.

NO INPUT ISSUES

None of the advisory group members had any trouble obtaining inputs -- seed, chemical or fertilizer -- they needed for this year's crops.

Kunkle in Illinois and Andersen in Nebraska both noted that some seed they wanted wasn't as readily available as they would have liked. "They seem to be short some of their top performers," Kunkle said.

Schmidt in Maryland, Wallis in Indiana and Gaesser in Iowa all noted lower prices this year for fertilizer compared to 2023. Schmidt said her chemical costs were also down, while Wallis said his seed and fungicide costs were higher.

DELAYED PLANTING AHEAD

According to DTN ag meteorologist John Baranick, there will be two weather systems that move through in quick succession starting Thursday in the Plains and Friday for the Midwest. The first one will be followed by a second about 36 hours later, which means almost continuous areas of rain over the Plains and Midwest from Thursday to Monday and about four days of rain for each.

"That's a pretty positive sign for those who need the moisture, but it should also cause some planting delays," Baranick said. "How much falls -- and where -- will be key to that, though. A widespread 1 to 3 inches is forecast, but these are going to come with a lot of thunderstorms, which leave patchy amounts across the landscape, so some areas are going to get less than forecast while others undoubtedly receive more."

Baranick added that light rain on dry soils probably won't mean a lot of planting delays, but heavy rain on wet or even slightly dry soils will cause delays to some degree.

Read more in the latest entry in the DTN Ag Weather Forum: https://www.dtnpf.com/…

On a lighter note, several of the advisory group farmers were anticipating another kind of season -- morel mushroom season. This week's forecasted moisture and warmer temperatures should produce a new flush of mushrooms across many regions.

"People are really wanting them around here!" Andersen said.

Jason Jenkins can be reached at jason.jenkins@dtn.com

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Jason Jenkins