"AgDay" wraps up the 2013 I-80 Planting Tour with a look at overall planting progress.
From late cold snaps and snows across portions of the country to flooding rains, it seems to be the winter that never ends. Many farmers along I-80 just can’t catch a break to plant. But with planters starting to roll, many farmers along the interstate are hoping the week of May 13 will go down in the recordbooks as the week of progress. While "mudding in" the crop isn’t always the best option, some farmers are getting desperate as planting continues to be delayed.
"One thing we talk about in our organization is to try not to rush things, or hit a five-run homerun in any one day," northern Indiana farmer Jason Wykoff told AgDay. "There’s only so much we can do in one day. So try to be patient and do that right because we have to live with that for the rest of the season."
With the calendar already hitting May 15, that’s getting harder for many farmers to do.
"In fairness, you get to a certain point and it's what have we got to lose," says Emerson Nafziger, professor of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois. "We may be mudding it in and going around the wet spots. I call that the time to do desperate things."
The latest USDA Crop Progress Report shows every state but Pennsylvania is behind in corn planting.
Of the farmers AgDay visited through the spring for the I-80 Planting Tour this year, planting progress varies greatly.
• Zach Hunnicutt is in Giltner, Neb., where for the first time ever, they’ve finished planting their popcorn before yellow corn. He says they’re about 60% planted on corn, but only 10% on soybeans.
• Heading east on I-80, Wayne Martin and Doug Holliday know the waiting game all too well. They farm in Shelby and Greenfield, Iowa, respectively. Both farmers have been forced out of the field due to rain for weeks. Each say they are about 20% planted on corn, but haven’t started on soybeans. Both Holliday and Marin say if the rain holds off for a few days, they could be up to 70% planted in just a matter of days.
• It’s a similar situation in eastern Iowa, where Michael Charbon says they finally got back into the field this week, after sitting on the sidelines since April 30. Currently, 15% of their corn crop is in the ground. Statewide, the average progress should be just under the 80% mark.
• But as you move east, planting progress improves. Remember Dave Kestel’s fields that were covered with water just a few weeks ago? Well, today, he’s nearly three-quarters of the way finished with his corn crop.
• In Indiana, Wykoff says only 10% of his commercial corn acres are in the ground, but he says their focus has been on seed corn. Nearly 50% of his seed corn acres have been planted as of early this week.
• It’s Ohio farmers who seem to be the lucky ones in this year’s planting race. Just last week, Greg Vorwerk had barely started planting outside of Napoleon, Ohio. As of today, 100% of both his commercial corn and popcorn acres are planted. He’s 50% done on beans.
"If you look at the past, early planting doesn't assure high yields," explains Nafziger. "And late planting doesn't assure low yields."
He says with the rollercoaster spring, it’s becoming more difficult to make a prediction on how yields will end up this fall. But as we draw closer to May 20, he says signs are lower yields begin to outweigh the chance of a record-breaking year.
"If you look at the cumulative effect, we're looking at about 15% cumulative loss if we get to the 20th of May, and about 25% cumulative loss if we get to the end of May," says Nafziger.
He says when looking at data from previous years, it’s been a mixed bag of spring weather that produced high yields. After all, it’s the moisture situation this summer that will be the final determining factor.
"As we showed last year, very clearly, what happens during the season, particularly June, July and August, is a lot more important than when we get planted," says Nafziger.
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