This week’s U.S.D.A. crop report shows this is the slowest start to corn planting in Iowa in 20 years. Only 15-percent of Iowa’s corn acreage is in the ground compared with 86-percent at this time last year.

Iowa State University Extension corn agronomist Roger Elmore says it’s not necessarily bad news. “This may be the year where late planting is just as good as early planting,” Elmore says.

“In fact, I would say that the corn planted early may not be as productive as the corn planted here this week.” After several days of rain and a few inches of snow, farmers were able to spend just a day and a half in the field last week. On the positive side, most of Iowa is showing improvement in soil moisture as the state recovers from last summer’s drought.

Elmore says some of the corn planted in early May is likely to struggle. “The crop that’s planted this week will probably come up in 7 to 10 days, whereas the crop that’s already in the ground has already been there two to three weeks. That makes a difference in viability,” Elmore says.

Many farmers like to have all their corn planted by May 10, but Elmore says he’s not worried. He says new hybrids and a streak of warm and dry weather can turn things around in a hurry.