Planting Update: Field Conditions in Good Shape

April 20, 2015 08:11 AM
Planting Update: Field Conditions in Good Shape

Don’t let the wind deceive you. Farmers in Western Iowa say they still need a dry-down. 

“We've got plenty of moisture,” says Matt Raasch, a farmer in Odebolt, Iowa. “We could stand to go without for a while.”

He's playing catch-up. A wet fall and early frost prevented him from getting all of his field work done last year.

“We left some ruts and tracks out there in the field with the combine and grain cart that we didn't like to see, but we had to get the crop out, and that's why we're catching up,” says Raasch. “We are doing some tillage we normally wouldn't.”

He says that moisture has carried over. On top of that, Raasch has received a half-inch of rain and three inches of snow last week. 

“I always have this date in my mind when I want to go but that never works out,” says Raasch. “So, we go by conditions and when things are right.”

He says the snow has since melted. There's still field work to be done, but he has high hopes of rolling the planter at the end of the week. 

Meanwhile, about two hours south around Randolph, Iowa, farmers are also needing some heat and a dry-down.

 “If there's a mud ball like that, it's just entirely too wet to plant,” says Julius Schaaf. “Last year we were concerned about dryness at that time. But this year, it's much different because, we have a full recharge of moisture.”

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows just that. For Iowa, about 49 percent of the state is abnormally dry,  51 is drought-free. One year ago, 82 percent of the state was abnormally dry, nearly 18 percent was drought-free. 

The no-till farmer says it’s too wet to plant this week, but he's not in a hurry. Last year's late frost still stings.

“The frost we had last year, that's pretty fresh in our mind,” says Schaaf. “Even though we did have very good yields, it's still tough to watch.” 

Roseland, Nebraska farmer, Alan Bonifas is still waiting on those rain clouds.

“We are drier than we would like, but hopefully it's going to rain,” he says.

Bonifas hasn't had a good rain since last September and didn't receive much snowfall last winter either.

He says most irrigated should be ok with a rain, but he worries if conditions continue, it may take a lot to get the dry land crops through the year. 

“It's been so dry, I think everybody, or most everybody will be ready to plant when it's time,” he says.

Some of Bonifas’ neighbors have started to roll. He plans to do the same soon.

Brandon Hunnicutt  says conditions are a touch drier than last year, but there's a sufficient amount of subsoil moisture. 

“The top two to three inches are dry, but sub soil moisture looks good,” he says. “It's comparable to last year. One good rain and we'll be sitting good.”

Pretty similar to what the latest U.S. Drought Monitor reads, 68 percent of Nebraska is currently abnormally dry, while just over 31 percent of the state is drought-free. Those are better conditions for some of the state than last year at this time, when about 91-percent of the state was abnormally dry and 9 percent was drought-free. 

“It really feels like we're ahead of where we were last year, temperature wise, climate wise, I think we're going to be a little ahead of last year,” says Hunnicutt.

He says his area is in pretty good shape. Two inches of rain since last February with an added half an inch just last week has really helped him out. He says he isn't planting yet, but some farmers around us have started. 

“Field conditions wise, they're in as good of shape as we've had for a few years,” he says.

As far as rotation, all four farmers say they plan to stick to normal rotations. For the Nebraska farmers, that’s heavy on corn.

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