Midwest Corn Planting Advances Ahead of Rain, Cold

Cold ground delays planting in northern, eastern Iowa

Published on: Apr 25, 2014

Farmers are rushing to plant corn in parts of the Midwest this week before rain arrives over the weekend, which will likely slow fieldwork for a few days.

"While significant interruptions are likely to seeding next week in the U.S. corn belt, recent favorable conditions in the southern corn belt suggest that a jump in seeding progress to about 25% complete is possible before these rains arrive," Commodity Weather Group said on Friday.

As of last Sunday, 6% of the U.S. corn was planted, well behind the 14% average and in Iowa, the largest corn producer, 2% was planted versus the 11% average. Illinois corn was 5% planted versus the 22% average and Nebraska was 4% versus the 6% average. USDA will update planting progress again on Monday.

Farmers continue to prepare fields in the Midwest; many have already begun planting corn though progess is below average, according to USDA data.
Farmers continue to prepare fields in the Midwest; many have already begun planting corn though progess is below average, according to USDA data.

In Iowa, between 25% and 33% of the corn may be planted due to rapid progress in the central part of the state, said Mark Licht, Iowa State University extension cropping systems agronomist.

"I've heard localized reports of some farmers who have finished corn planting and have started on soybean planting," he said. "With forecasts calling for chances of rain Sunday through Thursday, progress will be kept to a minimum in the coming week."

In northwest Iowa, as of Friday farmers had 10% to 15% of the corn planted and that could reach 20% before weekend rains arrive, Joel Dejong, an area Iowa State University field agronomist, told Farm Futures.

Little long-term concern about delays
Despite cold, wet fields this spring, Dejong said farmers did not appear concerned about planting delays.

"If we get most of this in the ground by May 10 we will be in good shape and I am hopeful for that," he said.

Planting in Dejong's area has largely been corn, with soybean planting not likely to start until May. Other Iowa sources also said very few soybeans had been planted.

Corn planting could be up to 20% done by early next week in central Iowa, but scattered showers may cause some interruptions, said Mark Johnson, Iowa State extension agronomist for a nine-county area there.

"They (planters) were really rolling a couple of days ago," he said.

Corn planting had not started in earnest in eastern or north central Iowa, where fields have either been too cold or too wet.

"We had rain yesterday and I doubt there will be much field work done before the next round of rain starts tomorrow night," Virgil Schmitt, Iowa State University field agronomist in Muscatine, said on Friday.

Related: Poll Says Nearly Everyone Would Start Planting, If They Could

Some planting was underway in northern Illinois, but many farmers focused first on applying anhydrous, which was not applied last fall.

"Most folks started planting in the last two or three days," said Russ Higgins, Dekalb-based commercial agriculture educator for University of Illinois Extension. "I would be surprised if in northern Illinois we would be much more than 6% or 7% planted (as of Sunday)."

Cooler weather ahead
In addition to rain, cooler weather was forecast for much of the Midwest starting at the middle of next week. While that may slow the drying of soils it should not seriously delay planting, CWG said.

"The cooler temperatures will be a compounding factor to a certain extent by slowing down the subsequent drying a bit. However, the coolest days appear to be Wednesday to Friday in most of the western Corn Belt and Thursday to Saturday in the east," CWG's Joel Widenor told Farm Futures.

Widenor said highs late next week will mostly be in the 50s and low 60s and lows in the upper 30s and 40s, with temperatures rebounding after that to the 60s to mid-70s for highs and mid-40s to mid-50s for lows through the following week.