It's been an interesting spring, weatherwise. Some areas of the Corn Belt have seen so much rain fields are too saturated to support planting equipment; in other areas planting took place early, only to have those fields, seeds and plants flooded out.
Here in eastern Nebraska, my gauge for how wet it is has always been the Platte River where it is crossed by I-80. In a "normal" year (and I use the term loosely) the Platte can appear to be more sand than water. This year, nary a sandbar in sight.
I asked a group of DTN readers how planting was going in their areas. What follows are their responses.
In southeast Indiana, Gerald Gauck said very little fieldwork has been done within a 30-mile radius of Ripley County. It's simply been too wet. But he hasn't lost hope.
"Here and there some burn down," he wrote in an email. "Two scattered fields of corn planted; one field of soybeans. Too COLD and WET. Quite a few farmers are talking about planting more soybeans and/or prevented planting. It's the same way it was 20 years ago. We didn't plant anything until June 22. Still had a good crop. No early frost."
In southwest Indiana, the rains have been prolific also. Scott Wallis of Princeton said it's been a real struggle.
"Two to four inches of rain here last week," he wrote. "We last planted on the 26th of April; some guys planted last Monday. Would estimate the area 60% done with corn; 10% done with beans."
In Hardin County, Ohio, Dan Hiller is keeping his sense of humor. "Planting?" he wrote, "Hell, I got stuck with the lawn mower in the yard this weekend. Had to use the field tractor to pull it out and it cut ruts."
However, he said not everybody in the state has the same problem he has. "Some of the driest ground around here has been planted where they did not get as much rain. The south end of the county did not get as much, so they made good progress there and the corn is up. West of Lima corn is up."
But in Dan's area, "... our rainfall here is just about normal since April 1 and even since last fall. Just no drying weather and the small showers are enough to keep the ground too wet. Getting web feet and some are starting to sound like ducks."
What if those fields don't dry out? Dan said "... many are thinking of shifting from corn to prevent plant. Can make more money that way rather than plant soybeans."
The limited bright spot? "Wheat looks good," Dan said, "but disease is in it and needs sprayed before it gets the flag leaf. Then sprayed again when it heads for scab. It's just too wet to risk scab."
Planting is going well in Justin Premo's area of Wisconsin near Watertown. "Just busy and COLD," he wrote. "A lot of corn and beans have gone in the last week or two. First crop hay will likely be harvested in the next week or so, and looks to be a lot of it too. For the most part we have been getting timely rains, but would be nice if we could get some GDUs. We had two mornings of frost, and even snow Saturday."
Jason Willemarck from Baraboo, Wisconsin, agrees with Justin. But he's not leaving much to chance -- got his crop insurance lined up and saying a few prayers.
"Things are good around here for now," he wrote. "We have had a lot of easy rains through the area and cold. Just over the weekend we had frost, down to 25 in areas. So, some corn got hit and those that had soybeans in early got a little hit. It shouldn't affect things too much -- but not good overall.
"Mine are not up quite yet so I should be good. Just finished all the planting over Mothers' Day weekend. The hay in the area is looking really good. With cool, wet weather it is really growing. Seen many areas that are already making first cutting. No bales; just chopping for the silos.
"We have been lucky in that we haven't had any bad weather like others just south into Illinois. Our time will come as is the case. Called to make sure the crop insurance is up to date and ready. As with each year, now that planting is done we just hope and pray Mother Nature helps with a good year."
Speaking of snow, Phil Carter of New Era, Michigan, said they woke up to an inch of the white stuff Sunday morning. "It was gone by noon, BUT snow in mid-May?" he wrote.
"Corn planting is all over the board with some almost done and others like me almost ready to start," Phil said. "The early corn has emerged but it is rather spotty. The heavier ground has been a challenge to get on and get anything done. I have some burndown on, all the potash spread but just when I'm ready to roll, it rains or apples need spraying AGAIN. Tomorrow (Tuesday), I'll be spraying again, (for the fifth time) covering for apple scab and powdery mildew. I'll also put on a PGR to hold back terminal shoot growth. We have put on insecticides for greenfruitworm, leafrollers and rosy aphids earlier and red mites are beginning to show up. All the fruits -- peaches, plums, cherries -- have bloomed and apples and pears are in bloom now. Cold weather has limited bee activity and pollination."
In northeast Ohio, Loren Hopkins is done planting and he guesses others in his area are about 50% done. "Some corn is out of the ground," he wrote. "We received 7/10 inch of rain over weekend. We needed it as topsoil was very dry. I switched 10% of my corn to beans."
Southern Georgia hasn't had as much moisture as farmers would like. Mark Israel said he is done planting except for some dryland (corn) and cotton. "I would say we are about half finished with cotton and peanuts overall. We should have some corn showing a tassel in a week or so. It's dry here, we need some rain!"
Still, in the end, I think Doug Zillinger from north-central Kansas summed it up best: "We have been in our maintenance mode and working cattle to go to grass for the last 20-plus days. When the rains end and we get in the fields again, it will be long hard hours and I hope all this stuff runs. As for planting acreage changes, I am not looking to change anything. I will just be glad to raise something."
For more from farmers on planting progress see Richard Oswald's weekly View From the Cab update. If you'd like to join our reader group, send me your email address and I'll add you to the list. firstname.lastname@example.org
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