Iowa State University Extension Crops Specialist Joel DeJong works in northwest Iowa and says despite the cooler temperatures most of the signs are positive.
“The soil conditions right now really look like for a lot of fields it’s pretty good. The soil moisture is at capacity right now, so it won’t take much to fill it back up,” DeJong says, “and the wet spots seem to be bigger than normal because of all that moisture in the soil — overall, pretty good.” DeJong says the four-inch soil temperature was 35 on Saturday and up to 41 on Sunday, so it is moving in the right direction.
“We like to have 50 degrees and warming if we are going to plant crops into good soil moisture conditions…so it looks like later in the week the weather might be pretty good,” DeJong says. He says the forecast right now for next week is looking good, but that could change. Many farmers are still applying anhydrous ammonia for fertilizer. DeJong says conditions are still favorable, if farmers make certain they are applying that anhydrous ammonia at deep enough levels.
“It looks like it’s sealing pretty well when it is out there. In the spring we want to put it six- and-a-half to seven inches deep or eight inches it’s trapping that gas in a smaller zone — and it looks like it’s working pretty well out there right now While some farmers in southern Iowa are into the fields, he says northern Iowa farmers may want to wait a few more days, even though research studies indicate better yields are obtained with early planted seed.
“I’m a little better about putting seed into cool ground that is warming up, better than putting seed into warm ground that cools off very rapidly due to a major storm system,” according to DeJong. “I don’t see that in the 10-day forecast — some rain maybe this coming weekend — But it doesn’t look like it is a real cold rain. So, if their conditions are set and everything is working in the field, later this week might be a good time to get started.” He says each farmer can decide what they want to do, but there is no rush.
DeJong says some farmers will start this week and others my choose to wait. “And that’s not a problem. A lot of producers can get their planting done in four or five days or maybe even less. Those who have a lot of days to plant, probably will get started,” DeJong says. He says as long as the crops get planted by May 5th, they should be okay.
The U.S.D.A. report shows west-central and southwest Iowa had the best conditions last week for working in the fields.
(Reporting by Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars)