Planting season is upon us

Farmers busy as May brings good window for crop planting

Farm fields across Central Iowa are buzzing with activity after a long winter as farmers work hard to plant corn and soybeans; indications are that now is a good window for planting.

Warm weather last week combined with rainier conditions this week have combined to benefit crop planting, Iowa State University Extension Field Agronomist Mark Johnson said.

“Actually, that should’ve been nothing but even that much more positive, because, actually, we were getting kind of dry in my nine counties,” he said of recent showers in Marshall County and parts of the surrounding area. “Marshall (County) was dry, Jasper (County) was dry, Story (County) was dry; it seems like the not-so-dry starts almost immediately at Hardin (County), and as you go north of there it’s wetter and wetter.”

This week, Johnson said planted seeds imbibed, or absorbed, rain water warm enough not to do any damage to growth. One common concern for farmers this time of year is cold rain, as cold water absorbed by seeds can cause problems with plant growth.

“That would’ve been bad,” he said. “Really, once it imbibes the water and starts growing, it’s got to get pretty cold to hurt it.”

Johnson said it appears there is plenty for farmers to look forward to as the month goes on.

When they get going next week, that’s still a great window for soybeans,” he said. “Soybeans optimum window goes all the way to May 18; corn will start dipping off here next week, just slightly, but it won’t be a big difference until you get to about (May) 10.”

Many corn planters will likely try to get their seeds in the ground by May 10-12, Johnson said.

Now is also the time crop farmers are thinking ahead to combat weeds in their fields.

“They may or may not have gotten some pre-emergence herbicide down to kill the weeds before they emerge,” Johnson said. “You can put that on before you plant or after you plant, but it’s only going to kill the weeds that haven’t emerged, and you want to get it on quickly after you plant.”

Weeds that survive this process must also be dealt with as planting season turns to growing season.

“The next step (is) you wait a few days, maybe three weeks or so, and you start to do post-emergence, and that’s to kill the weeds that did come up,” Johnson said.

While there are still several months between now and the harvest, Johnson indicated in last week’s Integrated Agronomics newsletter that the good planting conditions in his coverage area may bode well for yields later this year.

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Contact Adam Sodders at

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