April snow showers bring May flowers? This past weekend many farmers were surprised with snow on Easter and the following days. While it’s not unheard of to get snow in April, it certainly throws a wrench in early planting plans.
“No wheels have turned even though the equipment is field ready and seed is at the farm gate,” says Mark Licht, assistant professor and Extension cropping systems specialist at Iowa State University.
“In Iowa, frost is out of the ground in southern and central Iowa for the most part, but there is some frost in northern Iowa still. Even where frost is out the soil is wet and weather hasn’t been conducive to dry it out,” he adds.
Minnesota is also looking at slightly delayed planting as the state had snowfall earlier this week and has cool, wet soils.
It’s hard to predict just how long planting will be delayed in the state because things can turn around quickly, according to Jeff Coulter, associate professor and Extension specialist at University of Minnesota. “It’s still early in the northern Corn Belt, most aren’t too concerned.”
Farmers in Illinois might have slightly delayed planting, too. But don’t get worried just yet, even with late planting you can still achieve high yields.
“I’ve heard that some corn planting has been done in Illinois but the NASS report did not give a percentage, so acreage is likely small,” says Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois Extension specialist. “We’ve had slow starts in Illinois with high yields, such as last year with replanting in May. We’ve had fast starts with poor yields (2012).”
Surprisingly enough, Nafziger has heard more about soybeans being planted this March than corn. He cautions that while planting soybeans earlier is favorable for soybeans yields it can be taken too far. The risk for cool temperatures and snow and ice might make early planted soybeans need replant.
“After 4” of snow Sunday, temperatures at 16° Monday morning here in Champaign, lots of rainfall last night with more to come and high temps Saturday predicted in the 30s, it will be surprising if soybeans planted in March survive to emerge,” Nafziger says.
With faster, more efficient planters farmers can get more done in less time. Whether it’s planting for the first time or replant many don’t start getting concerned until planting is delayed into May, Licht says.