Farmers hope to get planting next week. (file photo)

The U.S.D.A. weekly crop report shows farmers got some field work done last week, but wet conditions — including snow in northern Iowa — slowed things down. Iowa State University Extension crop specialist Joel DeJong covers northwest Iowa, and says farmers are off to a good start as they move toward planting.

“And as I think as the conditions warm up and dry up and if we can stay dry this week, I think early next week we can see a lot of planters in the field,” DeJong says. Soil temperatures dictate when farmers will start putting seeds in the soil.

“We’d like to see 50-degree soil temperature at 4 inches and rising, is kind of what our goal is. We’ve been measuring temperatures all the way into the upper 40’s, it’s dropped back just a shade again, because we cooled back again,” DeJong says. “If you want a real rough rule-of-thumb of what the temperature is at 4-inch depth, you average the last three days of temperatures and you are usually pretty close at this stage of the game — unless there is a huge swing — and then sometimes it isn’t quite right.”

DeJong says there are some reports of drought-like conditions, but subsoil moisture levels in northwest Iowa seem to be sufficient. Dejong says they took several measurements last November down to 5 feet, which is the rooting depth for corn and bean growth, and the numbers were a little higher. “And that doesn’t go away the winter time, it takes crops or plants growing in it to have it go away. So that tells us that we are at least average at all out sites or maybe a slight bit above average at this stage of the game,” DeJong says.

The U.S.D.A. report shows soil moisture levels are adequate for most areas of the state. DeJong says most Iowa farmers will probably plant this year’s corn crop between April 20th and May 10th.

(Reporting by Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars)