Farmers have been taking advantage of the warmer, drier weather this week to get some planting done.

Iowa State University Extension field agronomist Angie Rieck-Hinz covers north-central Iowa, where she says farmers have been doing what they can.
“For about a week and a half, almost two weeks now we’ve been putting on anhydrous, we’ve been doing spring tillage — since we didn’t get a lot of fall tillage done — we’ve been planting corn. I’ve even heard a rumor that there’s some soybeans in the ground. So, people have been busy,” Rieck-Hinz says.

Rieck-Hinz says a lot of people she’s talked to have gotten their planters into the fields. “I would says we’re probably in that 35 to 40 percent area for planted. there are a few folks who are completely done planting corn,” she says. A winter storm is predicted to hit northern Iowa this weekend with six or more inches of snow, and rain could hit other areas.

Rieck-Hinz says the drop in temperature could become a problem if the newly-planted seeds take up cold water. “It causes some funky seed growth, or at least germination. We get cork-screwed mesocotyl. They struggle to push through the soil because they are all cork-screwed up instead of coming straight up out of the seed,” Rieck-Hinz explains. “And that can impact emergence.”

She says the first 24 to 36 hours after a seed is put into the ground is the key for it to get the water and warmth it needs to develop. That leaves those in the areas where snow and rain is predicted trying to decide what to do. “Our soil temperatures are going to drop. We usually want those temperatures around about 50 degrees when we are planting,” according to Rieck-Hinz. “So the question of the say is, should I plant corn today, or should I wait?”

Rieck-Hinz says even if the cold is not an issue, the rains could make things on the wet side for farmers going into the field.

(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)