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Spring rains continue to plague corn, soybean planting

Agriculture.com Staff 05/08/2009 @ 11:59am

Last spring, Mother Nature kept farmers guessing as to if and when they'd be able to get their corn and soybeans planted in areas from the Delta to the northern Corn Belt.

Though this spring started on a more planting-friendly note, it's settled into a pattern of delays throughout corn and soybean country. While some crop specialists say it's still not panic time, farmers and crop advisers say they're starting to get antsy. But, even though the wheels may not be turning, there is one silver lining to the slow-planting cloud thus far this spring, some say.

After a dry couple of days in parts of the Corn Belt through this weekend, the forecast is filled with on-again, off-again rainfall through mid- to late-May, according to Freese-Notis Weather, Inc.

"There are some exceptionally wet fields right now in the southeastern Corn Belt, and the dry weather that is going to be seen in those areas for tomorrow through Tuesday likely is not enough to dry fields in time to get much fieldwork done," according to Freese-Notis on Friday. "Rains are expected there for Wednesday through Thursday, which would keep farmers there out of the fields through May 17. There may not be big rains for May 17-21, but I doubt that the time period in question is anywhere close to being completely dry.

"The bottom line is that we are looking at a lot of the 2009 corn crop in the southeastern Corn Belt going in the ground during the second half of May, which is of course a whole lot different than what is normally seen in that area."

Central Illinois and northern Missouri have been the hardest hit by spring rains. Some farmers in Missouri say they're still at least a week away from turning a wheel in the field, while others in Illinois say it's worse than that.

"We had another 2 inches of rain last night and I've never seen this much water in May," says Marketing Talk member centralillinois. "We were still 4 days away from starting corn, and now it looks like 10 more days until we get the firsrt acre in the ground. It's very possible that the last corn we would be planting will be in June."

Other farmers say this widespread scattered moisture is hamstringing planting progress. Even in those areas where the rains have been lighter, drying has been slow.

"We haven't had any rain here in 4 or 5 days, but it just won't dry," says Agriculture Online Marketing Talk member mike in mo. "Sunny for short periods, but then little wind. It then clouds back up and cools back down.

"With some sun, we might get back in by Saturday, but it looks like more chances of rain and, for sure, cloud cover for the next 3 days."

Farmers in areas like southwestern Ohio and southwestern Indiana say they're facing similar weather challenges. But, in areas like the latter, it's not coming in big, soaking rains. Instead, the poor drying conditions have lately been preceded by light but steady rains.

"It'll be the middle of next week if it stops raining now," says Marketing Talk member SWINBinder of the planting prospects in his area of southern Indiana. "It's been a steady light rain all day, with more coming."

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