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Farmers report big-time variability in spring planting readiness

Old Man Winter made a late-season run through the nation's midsection over the weekend, leaving widely varying amounts of rain and snowfall in his wake.

Now, attention's fully focused on getting those wheels turning in the field. And, some farmers say they see that happening later this week, whether it's for fertilizer applications or getting this year's crop in the ground.

"The soil's still pretty wet. Most of the dry fertilizer is on, and they're finishing up spreading manure. Some are putting anhydrous on sandy tiled ground," says corn and soybean farmer Gary Edwards of Anamosa, Iowa, in the east-central part of the state. "This week's supposed to be fairly cool yet, but I anticipate getting started this week. Things are coming around."

Edwards, who says he's planting slightly more soybeans than last year on his farm, adds his area had rain and "a little dusting of snow" over the weekend. But, the weekend winter blast won't hold him up in planting. "I normally don't start planting until the third week of April, so I'm in no big rush yet."

Conditions aren't quite as fieldwork-ready in northwestern Iowa. Going into the weekend, Paullina, Iowa, farmer Bruce Rohwer says "it seemed like we had the bullseye on top of us" for the approaching winter weather. Snowfall amounts were smaller than expected in his area, but the ground's still on the cool side. With a slightly warmer week ahead, though, Rohwer says some fieldwork could get underway.

"Tilers are still finding frost, and manure haulers are talking about starting up this week if it warms up," he says. "A little dry fertilizer can go on. For the most part, it's pretty wet and it will be a little bit yet. But, look out by the end of the week."

Southern Iowa and northern Missouri got hit hard and often last summer with heavy rains and severe weather, but that trend has so far been bucked for the area, says Randolph, Iowa, farmer Julius Schaaf. Field conditions there are "almost ideal,"and planting will likely begin there soon, once the soils can warm up.

"We really have missed a lot of the moisture -- it either has gone north or south of us," Schaaf says. "We have a lot of anhydrous going on. I would say people will finish up with that this week. When the temperature starts coming up, we're going to see a lot of planters running here in big order."

Old Man Winter made a late-season run through the nation's midsection over the weekend, leaving widely varying amounts of rain and snowfall in his wake.

But, not all outlooks are rosy. Some farmers say it may be quite some time before the planters can roll, despite some tiling and other early fieldwork opportunities between now and then. Even if it stays dry from here on out in Agriculture Online Marketing Talk member RichILL's neighborhood, it will still be some time before he can get out the planter.

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