Crop Scouts Frustrated By Spring Weather Troubles

June 12, 2013 09:24 AM

We're keeping the tradition alive of gathering crop reports from these present and past Pro Farmer Crop Tour scouts. These reporters represent a cross-section from the four largest corn-producing states in the country and have been providing crop insights for the Pro Farmer Crop Tour Newsletter for six years. If you'd like to include a report (see below for updates, we will not publish names), use the comment section below or click here to send an e-mail.

Brad Nelson, Albert Lea, Minnesota: The only thing you can say for around here is what a difference a year makes. By mid-June we are normally well into the crop care part of the season -- but planting is still going on. USDA would say that I am done planting corn -- well I quit planting corn. I got 60% of my intended acres planted by mudding it in June 3rd... the balance of a field I started on May 16th. The best corn around here is what was planted before the 15-plus inches of snow we had on May 2nd. That corn has a decent stand and is around 6 inches tall. That stretch of fieldwork was about two days and fields weren't by any stretch fit at that time. The next window began on well-drained fields on late Monday, May 13. I planted my first field the following afternoon and got rolling decent on May 15th. Fields with a low amount of tile were not fit at all while well-drained fields were barely fit. That window slammed shut on the evening of May 16th. The next I planted was a few beans on pattern tiled land on the evening of June 2nd.

We had mud time on June 3rd before rain fell again on very early June 4th. The other problem we have had is very little warm weather. On May 14 temp oddly enough made it to 100 degrees along with a stiff wind. But other than that, we have been cloudy and cool. Yesterday the sun finally came out in the afternoon among a lot of clouds with the temp climbing to the upper 70's.

April and May brought 17 inches of water to the fields around here. There are planted fields that only have corn up over the tile lines even on fields with 70- or 80-foot spacings. All fields have some bare spots -- a good field has 5% to 7% bare. I have seen fields 70% bare that are planted. I know two guys that planted their intended corn acreage. I know three or four who haven't planted anything. 1991 and 1993 were the last years that were tough to get planted to this degree here. I have 2X the planter I had back then and miles and miles of tile compared to then. The difference here is the volume of water to deal with. We haven't had rains that ponded the pot holes this year to any degree it is just too wet. Fields that haven't been touched are still not very weedy.

The weeds haven't liked it either. One friend of mine said we had five days in May without rain through around the 27th of May. On June 2nd and 3rd a friend told me between corn and bean planting and helping a neighbor he was involved in a stuck situation eight times between diggers, planters and pickups looking for a place to plant. This is the worst planting season anyone around here has ever experienced. I have never seen a field that was prevented planted before this year and now there will be thousands of acres in this part of the state in that position. Who knows what ultimately will be planted around here. We are now losing 1% per day on soybean insurance coverage as well as the yield potential on what might be planted collapsing every day. Per tillable acre in Freeborn County I would guess this will be the worst year we have ever had. Per planted acre it remains to be seen what the yield will be. My worst average corn yield was '83 and '93 that were in the low 90's. My guess is now it could be close. Compaction, lack of nitrogen, weed control, how much longer soils are saturated and sunlight or lack there of remain in the picture and will impact the final result.

Byron Jones, Saybrook, Illinois: Rain has gone around and let us plant the corn and soybeans by May 25th. However many neighbors are finishing soybeans now. Corn spraying of herbicides has concluded and 28% N is being applied to 6 leaf corn. The first 20% of our corn is close to knee high and with excellent stands. North of Route 24 the ponds have been large and will need replanting. Soybeans on our farm have good stands except for errors in equipment performance which is very small in less than .01%. Some leaf wind damage has been noted. There no insect damage or herbicide carry over.

The corn rating is 8 (0 out of 10 being best) for our area as some fields were planted late and some yellow compacted areas are extensive. Most fields were planted after May 10th and half of them planted after May 15th. Planting date alone will reduce possible yields. However, most stands are good but late. Soybeans are rated a 9 on our farm as our soybeans were seeded at the same time as the corn. However, many of the bean fields in this area were sown after June 5th. These fields are of shorter maturities and will lack sunlight to yield at higher levels. Thus, the area will rate a 8.5 today.

Alan Karkosh, Hudson, Iowa: I feel like we are still waiting for spring to arrive. It has been cool and wet in this part of Iowa since Christmas time - not sure we have ever really dried out and now we are just sloppy wet. It has been a struggle all year long to get anything done. We had about five days the end of April and the first of May to get NH3 applied and do some fieldwork preparation. A little bit of corn was planted in the area at that time but we elected not to plant as the forecast was calling for cold, wet rain which actually ended up being a wet snow.

The next window of opportunity came at the end of the day on Mother's Day, May 12. We were able to get rolling and planting corn that week and had all of our commercial corn in the ground by the end of May 18. We did get a start on soybean planting the end of that week also. Since that time we have had record rainfall, creek bottom flooding and continued wetness in the fields. A lack of heat and sunshine has made it difficult to get fields dried out. I don't think we are getting much evaporation on these cool, cloudy days and one just can't have enough tile to drain fields under these conditions. We are continuing to try to wrap up seed corn planting which has gone two weeks beyond normal but with corn seed supplies tight the seed companies are trying to do all they can to get some seed in the bag for next year. The seed industry can't produce enough seed in winter production to get a U.S. crop planted next year. In Iowa, I think the seed industry is in uncharted territory with a lot of uncertainty with this year's seed crop.

We are also struggling to get soybeans planted and really a big challenge is finding fields that are mostly fit. We realize we are going to have to plant around some wet spots but if half the field is too wet it just is not worth pulling the planter into the field. Looking back at planting records, 2013 will be the latest I have ever planted and my father and uncle cannot remember a year this late. Based on past yield history, I do not anticipate any beans above 50 bu. per acre. We are easily looking at bean yields 25% off of average. It is a challenging, discouraging year to try to get anything done.

On Saturday, we had to have a wrecker out to pull out a tractor and a sprayer. Unfortunately, we were not able to get a two-for-one deal on it and it sounds like the wrecker went from our farm to another in the area to pull out a hay chopper. If I have to put a rating on our crop as it stands today - it would be bad! Our worst corn crop in the last 40 years was in 1993, the year of the floods, and so far this year feels worse than 1993. The crop is not growing, there are wet areas in fields with little or no stand, nitrogen tends to leach away or out of the root zone and there has just been no sunshine to fuel the crop factory. Beans are not planted or at best just emerging, so it will be difficult to produce much of a crop of beans either. Hopefully, the crop will not be as bad as I fear but I also know it will not be as good as a lot of people are predicting at this point in the season.

The following pictures are of the same farm just south of Alan's home, starting with the early May snow fall, followed by flooding the last half of May and the most recent showing soybeans just starting to come up with some short seed corn next to it.




Tim Gregerson, Herman, Nebraska: We wrapped up corn ahead of many of the growers around here and put the last seed in the ground May 17. But even that corn is growing slowly... everything is about three weeks behind in development. From Herman down to Lincoln, corn is puny, small and battling hard. In the York area, there a large area that looks good. Corn is a bit behind in development, but it really looks good. There's another smaller area that looks good around Holdrege in the south-central part of the state. Just north of there around Grand Island, corn doesn't look soo good. It's at least three weeks behind around there.

I had to make a run down to Colby, Kansas, and between Holdrege and Colby there were at least 40 pivots that were already running. They were running on a variety of crops. Some of the bean fields had crusted over before beans emerged and pivots were running on those fields to loosen the crust. I also saw corn, alfalfa and grass being irrigated on that trip.

Back around Herman, one of the most disappointing things is the hay crop. Guys are really struggling to get the first cutting done. If they did get it cut, it has had at least two rains on it and some guys are baling it at high moisture just to get it off of the field. Those that are waiting for a clear forecast are going to be baling a lot of purple flowers.

A big concern on the corn ccrop is we've lost some nitrogen. If guys can get in the field, they are doing some sidedressing to replace the N that's been lost. My corn is behind, but it's still got a good stand and I'm still optimistic this year. I rate my corn crop a 7, which might be a little better than the rest of the state.

Beans are not good. I've got some damping off happening in the river bottoms. And there is also some herbicide damage. What happened is we had a hard rain and it splashed the herbicide off the ground and onto the plants. I haven't had damage this severe for a long time. Around the area, there are still a few acres of beans that need to be planted. I rate my bean crop at 4, which is probably representative of most of the beans in the area.


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