Our I-80 Planting Tour stops in Eastern Iowa this morning. We head North from the Interstate towards Clinton County. Soil temps are in the 50’s this week, but air temps are dipping into the 20’s at night.
Farmers in Western Iowa say they’re a little on the dry side. However, it shouldn’t be a problem, unless these dry conditions continue.
“This is my 40th planting season. I’m ready to go,” said Eldridge, Iowa farmer, Jerry Mohr.
After decades of farming, Jerry Mohr has learned to hurry, but not rush. “I’m not an early planting guy. On April 25 if I have a window of a week to ten days, I can get it all in,” said Mohr.
The wait is standard operating procedure for this farm near Eldridge, but this year, he’s waiting on rain. In all his years of farming, Mohr says it’s been 20 years since it’s been this dry in the spring.
“For us right now, to do the preparation to plant corn, it’s been perfect but we are short of water,” said Mohr.
Mohr hopes these conditions don’t carry on. He’s received a quarter inch of rain, but is still over 2 inches short of where he wants to be. Now he’s dealing with a full forecast of cool weather, including the chance of below freezing temperatures.
“I’m just worried that is early, we’re a little cool and dry. I’d just assume hot and humid,” said Mohr. That’s quite a difference from last year’s start.
“Last year we were fighting rain drops,” said Mohr.
Twenty minutes North near De Witt, you’ll find Bob Bowman in this renovated shop, rich in local history.
“I went to grade school here,” said De Witt farmer, Bob Bowman.
The old school scoreboard remains, the game still tied. But Bowman says this year feels like he’s playing from behind.
“We got nothing done last fall because we got a snow in November that shut us out. We finished harvest and that was it,” said Bowman.
The no-till and strip till farmer says this too is also the driest spring he’s seen in quite some time.
“I always say we don’t require much moisture until the crop is up and going a foot tall or so,” said Bowman.
Unlike other pockets of Iowa, he had snow cover most of the winter, but still needs more moisture.
“We are looking forward to rain and some heat,” said Bowman.
But it doesn’t look like heat is on the way.
Bowman says he’s received a third of an inch of rain. He wants to be planting by the end of the week, but freezing temperatures might delay him even further.
When it comes to rotations, Mohr hasn’t switched anything around because of price.
“I stick to a regular rotation. This year, just by the way it is, I’m a little heavier on corn than beans,” said Mohr. Bowman is heavy corn.
“We’re slightly more corn this year. That’s normal for us,” said Bowman. Normal is the environment but guys hope to play in this planting season as they compete for good crops in 2015.