After slow start, spring planting set to wrap soon

T-R PHOTO BY SUSANNA MEYER — Paul Veren’s son plants seed in a field north of Marshalltown. While planting is occurring slightly later than it did last year, Veren was not worried about it affecting the yield.

The 2022 planting season has been off to a somewhat slow start with cold temperatures and damp conditions stretching through April, but planting is now in full swing for local farmers as the past week’s warm days set the scene for productivity.

Decker Mann, along with his dad, uncle, cousin and two brothers, run a corn and soybean farm just north of Marshalltown, and they started planting soybeans on April 19 despite the chillier weather.

In 2021, Mann said they had started on April 11, a full week earlier, but the weather continued to be uncooperative. The off and on rain and cold temperatures made getting started challenging.

“It just seemed like we could never really get a groove going. We would work for half a day and get rained out and then it would be wet all the next day, and the third day, you go back out and get rained out,” Mann said. “The last part of April and the first few days in May, it was pretty intermittent and slow.”

Even with the slowdowns, Mann said they weren’t too concerned. Friday was the fifth day where they worked all day with no interruptions, and he said they couldn’t have asked for better planting conditions last week.

“Last year, I think we were done with everything, I think, by May 3. So you could say we’re a week behind, but I would almost argue for the case that last year we were a week ahead,” Mann said.

Mann also said there was more moisture in the soil this year than in 2021, and he believes that will help the crops throughout the season unless there is no summer precipitation.

“Looking at it right now, and the way that planting conditions are, I think we’ll have a good year. We’re not really worried about the date because it’s been hot, it’s been warm and stuff is popping up really fast,” he said.

Mann estimated that Marshall County farmers would probably be done planting by next week or close to it, and he felt they were in a pretty good position with the upcoming weather forecast.

Paul Veren also farms corn and soybeans in Marshall County, and similarly to Mann, the later planting season wasn’t terribly concerning to him. He didn’t think they had lost any yield as of yet, but what is concerning is the rising costs of needed supplies.

Fertilizers, required chemicals and diesel for farm equipment have all risen in cost significantly this season, and farmers are feeling the effects.

“It seems like there’s no urgency on five-dollar diesel fuel,” Veren said. “Everybody thinks that we need to go green, electricity, everybody’s going to be driving electric cars, and that’s going to solve our problems, but we’re always going to purchase diesel fuel. These tractors aren’t ever going to be electrical.”

On top of high diesel costs, Veren said the cost of anhydrous ammonia had tripled since last year’s application. Last year, it cost him $500 to apply it to his crops, but this year the cost rose to $1,500.

“A lot of stuff that we deal with has doubled or tripled in price,” Veren said. “They talk about inflation being eight percent. There’s hardly anything I deal with that’s gone up eight percent or less, everything has been more. This inflation has been wild.”

Steve Anderson, who farms in northern Marshall County, northwest Tama, and southern Grundy also felt that the cost of putting the crop in has been the most challenging part of spring planting.

“Labor, fuel, fertilizer, seed, chemicals, everything is — oh man — gone up exponentially,” Anderson said. “When I paid the fertilizer bill from the fall fertilizer application, I spent more on that than I did putting in the previous year’s entire crop on all expenses.”

Even with inflation and later planting, Anderson still had a positive outlook on the 2022 crop since the temperatures this year are looking more conducive for crop growth. May 2021 was fairly cold, and Anderson said the crops didn’t progress much during the month.

“Considering that we’re planting maybe a week and a half, two weeks later than we did a year ago, we have the ability with this heat that we’ve currently got to probably catch up to exactly where we were a year ago in crop development,” he said.


Contact Susanna Meyer at 641-753-6611 or smeyer@timesrepublican.com.


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