Planting Season Finishes Early

Corn, soybeans ahead of schedule early on as farmers hit the fields

    REGIONAL -- Many Iowa farmers have completed their planting for the season, finishing up early due to warm weather and rain early in the season.
    “Planting of Iowa’s expected corn crop is nearly complete at 97 percent, two weeks ahead of the five-year average,” Iowa secretary of agriculture Mike Naig said in a report released May 24.
    According to the report, 89 percent of Iowa’s soybean crop had been planted by May 23, which is 15 days ahead of normal.
    Planting season is returning to a more typical timeline after an even earlier season last year.
    “We are still a little on the early side, but not as much as last year,” said Mike Witt, field agronomist for Iowa State extension.  
    Jason Monson, a farmer from Irwin, finished his planting earlier than average on April 29.
    “It went fast this year, really fast,” Monson said.
    Jeff Buman, a Harlan farmer, said the target dates for planting corn are between April 20 and April 30, depending on conditions and weather forecast. He typically plants soybeans immediately after corn. This year, he was able to stay within that range and planted on time.
    Corn is traditionally planted earlier in the season than soybeans because corn produces better yields if planted before May 15. Soybeans, however, can still produce good yields if they are planted later in the season, even up to the beginning of June.
    Witt said more soybeans have been planted earlier in the season this year because they can produce better yields if planted early.
    “The whole concept of planting early is to try to get as much plant growth.... as you can before it starts to go into reproduction,” Buman explained.
    However, soybeans thrive in warm soil conditions and early planting can cause the plants to freeze or become diseased.  
    “The longer [the soybeans] lay in the soil, the more pathogens can get to them,” Monson said.
    Witt said soybean success when planted early depends on a number of factors, including soil temperature and moisture, weather and temperature and how deep they are planted.
    “Soybeans don’t like cold ground, so anytime you have a cold ground, and especially if it’s cold and wet, you can have a lot of diseases show up,” Buman said.
    Farmers typically look for adequate ground conditions (soil temperature and moisture level) and watch the extended forecast before planting. According to Witt, soil temperatures should be around 50 degrees Fahrenheit and rising before planting.


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