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Planting Stories Diverge in Eastern Corn Belt

Rain Pressures Indiana Planting Season

DES MOINES, Iowa -- It’s Monday and the sun is out in parts of the Corn Belt, but not everywhere.  And for farmers in the eastern Corn Belt, the clouds and rainy forecast mean trouble for drying already wet fields and resuming corn and soybean planting.

The sun needs to be out, following heavy rainfall events, over the weekend, stalling corn planting in many areas.

On Monday, the USDA pegged Indiana's corn planting progress at just 30%, ahead of its 22% five-year average but way behind its ECB neighbor Illinois at 66%. The question now becomes can the sun dry up field conditions quick enough before the next round of showers arrive? It could be close, according to Freese -Notis Weather Inc.

“The month of May started wet and cool. Looking into the 6-10 day, the Midwest farmers should see less rain and warming temperatures,” says Dan Hicks, meteorologist with Freese-Notis. But, starting May 9-13, the rain returns for the Midwest, especially the western Corn Belt.”
Mother nature is really playing tricks on Indiana farmers, delivering large amounts of rain in southern Indiana, where many tractors and planters haven’t even turned a wheel.

Further north, in the west central area of Indiana, Kent Haring says the rains will now set back efforts to finish corn planting and move on to soybeans.

“I have about 950 acres of corn planted already,” Haring says. So, we’re on par with our average corn planting pace.  I like to be done with corn planting by May 1, but we probably won’t make that this year. And, I see my soybean planter peeking out of the shed. But, it could be sitting there for awhile.”

Haring adds, “It could be worse. I know farmers in southern Indiana, near Edinburg, that haven’t turned a wheel and are usually done planting by now.”
And heavy rains pummeled those southern Indiana farmers’ fields again, over the weekend.

Related Planting Talk: Midwest farmers weigh in on planting pace in their areas

Craig Stevens, CERES Solutions, a northwest central Indiana-based farmer co-operative that provides ag inputs, says it could be Friday before any planting gets done, as a result of wet conditions. “The clouds are out and rain is in the forecast, for the next few day,” Stevens says.“It’s a good thing that our farmers, around Pleasant Ridge, got off to a fast start, with a 10-11 day planting window starting April 18th. We’re still only about 50% planted on corn and maybe 10% done with the soybeans.”

The rainy pattern is a painful reminder of Indiana’s ‘monsoon’-like growing season a year ago when many areas received 14.00-inches in the month of May, 34.00-inches in June and 11.00-inches in July.

When asked about fighting weeds, Stevens says that is the next battle to fight. “With these wet conditions, the weeds will be growing quicker than we can get to them, in some cases.”

Illinois Planting Picture Is Better

On Monday, the USDA pegged the Illinois corn planting progress at 66% vs. the five-year average of 38%. Also, 25% of the corn in Illinois has emerged vs. a 12% five-year average.

Doug Martin, a Mt. Pulaski, Illinois, farmer says good planting weather, ideal soil conditions, have allowed him to finish corn planting and begin to plant soybeans.

“We’re ahead of our planting pace by about a week,” Martin says. “If it doesn’t rain too much this week, we will start on soybeans. “We started planting corn on April 15th and that corn is out of the ground and looking good.”

The photo below shows Martin's corn that has already emerged.

 Farmers northwest of Peoria, Illinois, have the corn in the ground with most already emerged, and 50% of the soybeans planted too, according Dave Mowers, crop consultant with GMS Lab &  AIM for the Heartland Consulting Agronomist.

“This is the earliest we’ve ever been done on corn planting,” Mowers says. “We didn’t have any frost in the ground since February. If anything, our farmers are more concerned about drought-like conditions building.”

Mowers says that the crops in his area of Illinois have missed a lot of the rains that occurred in April. “It seems like the rains stayed west of the Mississippi and east of the Illinois River.”
Looking ahead, Mowers is hoping for more rain, but warmer temperatures. “A Mother’s Day frost would hurt the corn that is already planted. The soybean seed is protected a whole lot better than corn.”

Acreage Switching Non-Factor

Up until now, there haven’t been a lot of farmers in the eastern Corn Belt that have switched planted acreage from corn to soybeans.

“A lot of farmers had their seed orders delivered well ahead of time. And as the weather permitted early, fast planting, there was no switchover whatsoever,” Mowers says.
In Indiana, Haring and Stevens reported very little acreage switching. “There have been some minor switches, but not a great deal. We need 45.0 bushel per acre yields to attract more bean acreage. And it’s just hard to get that around here, with our soil.”

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