Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says there are some "pockets" of the state where corn and soybean fields have yet to be seeded. To complicate the early part of the growing season, some farmers are picking tornado debris out of their fields and considering replanting, while others are waiting for last week’s flooding to fully subside so they can check the submerged plants and determine whether they need to replant.
"There’s still time to be able to get soybeans in, but folks are getting nervous about it," Northey says, "and then we do have the potential for flooding as well as just lowland flooding where in a field where the water pools and covers up a crop for a while and that can either badly damage that crop or kill that crop and force replanting to have to have to happen."
Most of those fields will be reseeded with soybeans as it’s too late to plant corn in all but far southern Iowa. "It has to be dry before folks can get back in so this will have an impact on yields in many of the areas," Northey says.
Once farmers see their crops emerging from the ground, they often spray the fields to prevent weeds from growing and taking nutrients and water away from the young corn and soybean plants. Farmers with sopping wet fields will have to wait on that, giving the weeds a little longer to take root. Once floodwaters recede or standing water in some areas of a field dry up, some corn farmers will have another decision to make. "In some cases there needs to be a little more fertilizer put on, a nitrogen fertilizer especially on corn — side-dressing it’s called and that will be delayed here a little bit," Northey says, "not a problem if it happens in the next three weeks or so."
Northey’s not ready to say the slow start to the 2008 growing season will reduce the fall harvest by any measure. "Well, there’s so much season to go and the old line is: ‘You lose a crop three times before you harvest it’ so this is another one of those times when there’s enough worry to go around," Northey says. "(By) the same token, the crop in most places is in, in most places it’s healthy. It is a little behind but as long as the rest of the reason straightens out, it shouldn’t be a problem."
Northey is still actively farming in the Spirit Lake area and he has his crop in the ground. A detailed report on planting progress and the status of the 2008 crop that’s emerged from the ground will be released late Monday.