WORTH COUNTY, Iowa - After a stretch of soggy, rainy days, we are finally starting to dry out. And while it's been an iffy start to this year's planting season, farmers are managing to get corn, soybeans and other crops planted so they're ready for fall harvest.
Courtney Bartz grew up with an agricultural background; her Dad and Uncle both farm near Grafton. She also works with farmers on a daily basis at Viafield in Northwood.
"We were off to a little bit of a slower start this year with some of the early April snow and the rain. We did get into the field and get going earlier this spring that we did last year."
According to the most recent Crop Report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Iowa growers have planted about 36% of the expected corn crop; 28% of corn has been planted in the North Central area of Iowa. Soybeans are only sitting at 8% across the state, two days behind the average. 2% of the soybean crop has been so far planted in North Central Iowa. Only 1% of the corn crop has emerged, putting farmers a week behind the 5-year average. In comparison, Minnesota has only seen about 6% of their corn planted statewide.
Dennis Johnson with the Iowa State University Extension office in Northwood is optimistic that farmers can still stay on track to get their crop in by the middle of this month.
"If you can get it in by that time period, you'll probably maximize your yields yet. Whereas if you go past May 15th, get into late May, you may start running into yield drag because you didn't get it planted on time or maybe the crop is a little wet in the fall and doesn't mature as much as we like."
Compared to last year, the ability to plant on time has improved this year, and Johnson says we may be heading towards a more typical weather and crop output pattern.
"We can't say that just because we planted a little bit late, we'll say, 'oh no.' I don't think we can think that way. We'll find out in the end how it's going to turn out. Most years, it's been pretty good. We've been blessed with some decent yields in recent years."
As planting season rolls on, Bartz has one hope.
"Just some nice, warm, sunny days. We got to get the soil temperatures up a little bit, and the air temperature too."