Planting Progress Stalls

Between the Fencerows

Farmers play the waiting game as showers linger

Published on: April 30, 2013

Patience is a virtue, right?  In agriculture, exercising that patience can be difficult, especially in a year shaping up like this one.  With every day, and the turning of the calendar, restraint is becoming more difficult.

Most years, planting starts for us between the 15th and 25th of April.  Northern Indiana as well as much of the central and eastern Corn Belt has had a deluge of rain the last month.  Until then, progress in our area had been going well.  Several operations were putting on ammonia and doing tillage.  We had done some strips and spread a little manure and lime.  Spraying was just getting started.  But that all stopped with the rain.

Now, weeks later, progress has stalled.  Most of the rivers and ditches are back within their banks.  Waterholes in the field are receding.  But it is still wet, and worse yet, cold. 

The warm weather early this week is making us feel for certain we should be planting.  However, the ground conditions are not right.  Soils are still cold, and many were saturated just days ago.  The old time saying 'plant in the mud, the crops a dud' comes to mind.  This week, I may be writing more for myself than others.  I'm trying to validate the decision to sit on the sidelines until conditions are right. 

We only get one chance each year to grow a crop. I want the highest potential we can have.  Further, when it is fit to roll, acres will be covered rapidly. 

It is still early enough we have a chance at a normal crop, provided we get planted soon. However, I know if we go "mud it in," we would need ideal conditions the rest of the season for that same opportunity to yield like a normal crop. Compaction would restrict plant roots and limit the water and nutrients that are available to the crop. Not an ideal situation by any means.