View From the Cab

Rain Muddies Planting Intentions for Iowa, Oklahoma Farmers

Richard Oswald
By  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) -- DTN View From the Cab farmer Brent Judisch of Cedar Falls, Iowa, had a couple of pretty good days last week. "Monday was productive," Brent told DTN late Sunday evening. "We were able to run Tuesday. We finished our custom work."

Brent and his wife, Lisa, do custom soybean drilling. Brent is support while Lisa and helper Rusty Zey share duties keeping two drills going -- 14 hours netted 600 acres each day. "(The) rest of the time (was) service and refueling," Brent said.

Then the rains came.

"Wednesday morning it rained, then about suppertime, storms blew through. We had wind, hail and rain. There are quite a few trees down, and I have a (neighbor's) horse barn to get out of my corn field." Rain amounts were modest. "Wednesday we had four-tenths of an inch, Thursday a half-inch, Friday thirty-five hundredths, and Saturday seven-tenths. It's been cool. Yesterday (Saturday) it never got out of the 40s. Monday and Tuesday were in the low 80s. Since then, we've been in the 40s and 50s. The only thing growing is grass," he said.

Public power was interrupted during the storm on Wednesday. Officials warned it could be Friday before service was restored. Brent started the backup generator Thursday morning. Power was restored soon after. "We didn't have any damage, but town was a mess. Trees were down, streets were blocked. I had to go in and help a few people clear them," he said.

Soils are saturated without standing water or flooding. Skies have been overcast and conditions are damp. It'll take at least two dry, sunny days before fieldwork can resume. "Drying is zero. We're in an area where we don't have a lot of ponding. Everything has enough grade that water pretty well gets away," Brent explained.

Brent estimated planting progress in the area at 90% done. Corn stands look good but with some yellowing due to weather. Hail in the area had little effect on corn where growing points are still beneath the soil surface. First-planted beans, planted in April, are emerged. Stands are good. Later-planted soybeans have been slow to come.

Brent estimates his soybean planting can be finished in half a day. But the remainder of his fields are in an area to the north that's been wetter than average this spring. "This year you get two or three days and then out again. In 2014, 2015 and 2016, it was the last week of May before we got all the beans finished. It feels like we're behind, but we're really not."

"We've been very fortunate here. I have friends in Illinois with replanted fields under water. Friends in Nebraska (are) still trying to plant corn. In '93 we hardly even got to spray or sidedress. It rained every three or four days and never did dry out," he said.

For View From the Cab farmer Zack Rendel of Miami, Oklahoma, rainy days equal shop time.

There's been plenty of that this year.

"I'm out in the shop today installing a Y-drop system on our Hagie sprayer," Zack told DTN Monday afternoon. "It's going pretty fast. About 4 or 5 hours to put it together. We'll be able to do 24 rows, 60 feet, at a time." (Y-drops split liquid nitrogen flowing through drop hoses so that it flows closer to either side of rows rather than right down the middle.)

Zack and his uncle, Brent Rendel, had just 200 acres of milo left to plant last week before switching to soybeans. "Last Monday we checked the ground to see if we could finish. There just wasn't any way. So we held off until Tuesday. We thought we could get the milo in, but it was gonna be very hard. There was 3 to 5 inches of rain in the forecast. We thought 'it's just 200 acres,' so we pulled the plug (on milo planting)," Zack said.

"Tuesday through Thursday, we worked ground and got all our soybean acres ready (including the 200 acres originally intended for milo). We decided to wait until after the rain to plant. We ended up getting right at 4 inches Thursday night through Friday evening."

Zack said storms were moderate at his place, but worse to the east where trees were uprooted by strong winds.

Monday a check of canola fields showed only about 10% mature. Tuesday the planter was switched to soybeans. On Wednesday, some cornfields were checked ahead of side-dressing, and another look at canola fields showed maturity advancing to about 70%. "Wednesday I started swathing canola. I got 230 acres swathed down by Thursday evening. We'll finish the last 200 acres when the ground settles," Zack said.

After drying in windrows for about 10 days, a combine will follow.

Wheat is turning fast. Not much green remains in those fields. Harvest should start in two weeks. Corn is enjoying higher heat units, and is "blowing out of the ground." Milo planted between rainy spells is doing the same. Corn stands have survived without being replanted, but there are drowned-out areas on low ground. "We could have had 600 acres of soybeans planted, but it just would have been 600 acres to replant after all the rain," Zack told DTN.

Warmer temperatures and moist conditions breed fungus. DTN asked Zack if that's a problem. He said canola was sprayed this year for the first time. "There are a couple diseases that can hit canola. There's stalk rot and mildew. You can tell when you run the swather there's some fungus out there. Last year (without fungicide), white dust came off everything. I'm pretty sure it was powdery mildew. There's some this year, but not like that," he said.

Eastern Oklahoma hasn't exactly been cold, but highs in the 80s is about as warm as it's been this spring. In at least one instance, that's cooler than last winter.

"There was a day in January when we were flirting with 90 degrees. We went from one extreme to the other ... from drought to flooding in two weeks' time," Zack said.

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Richard Oswald