View From the Cab

Rain, Rain, Won't Go Away in Iowa, Northern Oklahoma

Richard Oswald , DTN Special Correspondent
Zack Rendel of Miami, Oklahoma, (left) and Brent and Lisa Judisch of Cedar Falls, Iowa, are this year's featured DTN View From the Cab farmers. (Courtesy photo of Zack Rendel; DTN photo of Brent and Lisa Judisch by Pamela Smith)

LANGDON, Mo. (DTN) -- Last week was a quiet week -- if you don't count the sound of rain on the roof -- DTN View From the Cab farmer Zack Rendel of Miami, Oklahoma, told DTN late Sunday evening.

"Last Saturday night we got an inch of rain. Monday we just worked on combines. Now they're ready for wheat and canola. I put in 16 rows of sweet corn on Tuesday. It rained again Wednesday night until Friday morning. We got 4.7 inches total," Zack said.

The rains resulted in a significant amount of runoff in fields, Zack said. "Water's standing in low spots and terrace channels. Rows are flooded in low areas. We got some new (leased) river-bottom ground this year. We haven't farmed any of it yet. Brent (Zack's uncle) was going to take the drone down there and see what it looks like. We joked that if we can't get soybeans planted on it, we can plant rice," he said.

After the rain ended Friday, the Rendels put up field signs for a canola field day on the farm that was scheduled for this Monday. "It's a collaboration with Oklahoma State University and Rubisco, our canola seed company. Our seed dealer is Medoc Valley out of Oronogo, Missouri," Zack explained. Canola experts from Rubisco, Brian and Claire Caldbeck, were to be on hand at the field day, along with representatives from the ADM oilseed crushing facility. Representatives from Tyson Foods also planned to attend to explain their interest in whole canola used in feed rations.

Elsewhere on the Rendels' farm, all of the corn is planted and fully emerged. First-planted sorghum is also spiking through. Wheat and canola appear to be maturing ahead of average.

"Wheat is all pollinated and looking really good," Zack said. "I told you last week wheat was going to be short, but I bet it's 6 to 8 inches taller now. That'll help the straw crop."

The Rendels market straw locally to a mushroom farm. "We sell them just the windrow. They bring their balers in and haul it all in for me. That helps offset their cost," Zack said.

Meanwhile, the completion of milo planting and commencement of soybean planting are postponed for drier weather.

"It's kind of a waiting game," Zack said. "I'll be waiting most of the week with more rain forecast for the end of the week."

That's a familiar feeling to DTN's other View From the Cab farmer, Brent Judisch, who is located in one of Iowa's richest cornfield sweet spots outside Cedar Falls. The Judisches are no strangers to waiting. "We had rain on Tuesday. Could have gotten in Wednesday but for rain on Thursday," Brent told DTN late Sunday evening.

"We didn't get as much rain as some places," Brent said. "We have neighbors who won't start until tomorrow. Up by Waverly (Iowa), they haven't done anything."

Brent prefers not to plant just ahead of cold early spring rains because of the danger to newly planted seeds of cold-water imbibition, or chilling injury to germination. "They always say the most critical time for corn is the first 24 hours," Brent said.

That and clods created by working wet soil too early keeps Brent moving at a measured pace. "The ground was 55 degrees yesterday (Saturday). It got down to 52 a couple of days. My average goal is to be done by May first, but that may not be possible this year. Ideal would be to plant everything on April 25," he explained.

First-planted corn, in the ground about a week, has sprouted, but none has emerged.

Working together with his wife, Lisa, Team Judisch was able to reach the 54% planted mark Sunday evening. "We shoot for 15% to 18% per day," Brent said on Sunday.

Brent updated DTN early Tuesday morning: "We worked until 10:00 (p.m.) last night (Monday). We are 75% done." Are they continuing to plant Tuesday? "We parked everything. The forecast does not look well at all. Forecast lows (later this week) are in the 30s and 40s," Brent said.

With the calendar getting close to May, Brent's not overly concerned about the effects of later planting -- corn maturity countdown begins with emergence. "The ground gets warmer in May, so the corn comes up quicker."

Weedy grasses haven't made much progress in the cool weather, but broadleaf weeds are growing. A local grain elevator/farm supply takes care of spraying post-emerge herbicides behind the Judisches' two, 24-row planters. "The elevator has been doing a good job keeping right with us."

Planting hasn't been completely uneventful. A broken closing wheel, a tractor stuck in a waterway, are problems conventional tillage farmers face even in cool, wet years.

"(Yesterday) we had trouble with (planter monitor) sensors getting dirty," Brent said. Located below seed meters in seed tubes, the sensors use electric eyes to detect and count seeds on their way to the furrow. Dust obscures their vision.

"There was only a 5-mile-per-hour breeze. When it's like that, the dust just hangs with you," Brent said.

Richard Oswald can be reached at talk@dtn.com

Follow Richard Oswald on Twitter @RRoswald

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(AG/CZ)