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Planting in Iowa: 'We've Got a Long Way to Go'

April 25, 2012

April has brought cooler temperatures, and this has caused planting to slow in much of the Midwest. In Iowa, planting is just getting started. During our third stop along the I-80 Planting Tour, AgDay’s Tyne Morgan spoke to two young producers who are just beginning to plant.


"We've got a long ways to go yet," said Avoca, Iowa, farmer Lance Scott.

That pretty much sums up planting in Iowa. Although warmer temperatures created temptation for many producers to get in the field before normal, the two young producers AgDay talked to went the conservative route by deciding to wait.

"Most of us are just getting started," said Kevin Ross, a farmer from Mendon, Iowa. "Typically around here we start around April 20th. There might be a few guys before that going. But not until the 20th or 25th is when guys get rolling in my area. And I don't think this year is going to be a whole lot different than that."

"We're not early planters so we've just gotten a good start," Scott added. "We're just hoping Mother Nature works with us so we can get things finished up in a timely manner."

This week’s USDA Crop Progress report reflected that. According to the report, only 9% of Iowa’s corn is in the ground, which is behind the five-year average of 16%.

At this point in planting, both Ross and Scott are glad they decided to wait. Scott had intended to start planting right after Easter. Then, that date got pushed back to around April 15. But, they just got started late last week.

"Early temperatures said, soil temperatures said it was time to plant, but the calendar said to hold off and wait," Scott said. "And about the time we would have gotten started, that's when we got a good rain that we really needed. Now, planting conditions are a lot better than they would have been if we would have started early. So it worked out in our favor."

"Just recently we had some real hard rains over the bad storms that came all the way up and down the central U.S. And there was about 3" at home here that we got in about a day," Ross said. "So, there was some washing in some areas and things like that, so especially guys that had done some tillage work or even got some things planted will have to go back and maybe plant some end rows and things like that."

Both farmers are transitioning more acres to corn this year, unlike the farmers AgDay has talked to for the previous planting updates.

Like many farmers this year, Scott and his father purchased a new planter. It arrived about a week ago, which contributed to their decision to hold off to plant. He says the move to larger equipment will help most farmers make a big dent in the amount planted in Iowa in quick fashion.

"Just a handful of days, three to four days, we could have everybody in pretty good shape," Scott said. "It doesn't take long. With the early spring we've had a lot of fieldwork done and haven't had any ditches to go fix or any problems that way. So, once we get rolling, it will really fly by."

Both producers are in their early 30s. And it’s more than just the rolling land in Iowa that’s creating challenges for them.

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