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Cold start to planting in Iowa, Southern farmers battle weed pressure and down machinery

Matt Miles finishes up corn and soybean planting, while Kevin Matthews and Kelly Garrett wait for better planting conditions.


A fifth-generation farmer, Kelly Garrett farms corn, soybeans, and winter wheat in western Iowa.

It only took one month and three days, but the soybeans we planted on March 21 are finally out of the ground. We’ve had some tough weather over the last month, and it will be interesting to see if the stress mitigation products that we applied will make a difference with these beans.

Green cover crop field with black cattle grazing
Photo credit: XtremeAg

We planted more beans on April 12 and April 15, but we’ve only planted 300 acres of soybeans so far since the ground has been too cold. We received 0.8 inch of rain last week, which really greened up our cover crop field. But we still need moisture, especially as it starts to warm up now.

Kelly Garrett's John Deere planter being tested in the shop ahead of planting on his Iowa farm
Photo credit: XtremeAg

We water tested the 2×2 and in-furrow systems on both of our 24-row planters; as soon as it dries up from the recent rains, we’ll be back in the field planting again.

If you follow our farm on, then you know that our no-till practices result in a lot of leftover corn residue. The mild winter and lack of precipitation this winter has left us with a heavy blanket of residue that still needs to break down. This seems to be a common issue this year as I have been getting asked by a lot of other farmers about how to help the residue breakdown faster. This year, I am trialing several different products such as Agricen’s Extract and Residue RX from Concept Agritek in our pre-mix tank. They are supposed to help speed up the breakdown of residue. We will share the trial results on XtremeAg this year.


Matt Miles is a fourth-generation farmer in southeast Arkansas who grows corn, soybeans, rice, and cotton.

Corn growing in April in Arkansas
Photo credit: XtremeAg

Hectic and stressful is how I would describe the last few weeks. Although we have had a scarce amount of planting days, we have gotten a lot done during those days. We are done planting corn and finished with about 90% of our soybeans. We started planting cotton last week as well.

Today we are running four planters and three sprayers and hopefully can get the rice drill started this week. We always learn the things we should have done differently from year to year.

Weed pressure in corn on an Arkansas farm
Photo credit: XtremeAg

For example, I always wait to spray my corn until around V4-5 stage with Halex GT and Atrazine. This year with all the rain and most days too windy to spray, that turns out to be a mistake. Some of the winter vegetation broke through at the same time as the corn. Even though it will eventually play itself out of the equation, it has been competitive with my corn at the early stages. It’s normally not a problem, but this year has been wetter for more days than I ever remember. We can clean it up and it will be fine, but it sure does look ugly in the process. I feel like I’m planting into a green cover crop sometimes. We brought in an airplane last week to spray some of it down. 

My biggest concern today is available cotton seed. I’m still waiting on some of the seed I ordered in the winter. The companies are waiting on it to break dormancy and for the cold test germ test. Hopefully I don’t have to stop planting because of lack of seed.

Stay safe, get rest, and good luck with this planting season.


Kevin and his wife, Cindy, own and operate Matthews Family Farms of North Carolina, Inc., Precision Nutrient Management, Inc., and Deep Creek Grain, Inc. in East Bend and Yadkinville.

Frustrations have continued this spring and we now have a new farm record for the least number of acres planted at the end of April.

John Deere planter being filled on a North Carolina farm
Photo credit: XtremeAg

We upgraded all our Deere planters this winter. Both of our DB planters were rebuilt from the toolbar back. Our old units had thousands of acres causing wear and needed replacements. After waiting for the ground to dry we’ve found ourselves chasing wires hoping to find complete functionality of the planters. Our dealer is working hard to get us running, but it’s frustrating when the crop needs to be in the ground and we are shut down.

On a positive note, we are pretty excited about the new CapstanAg SelectShot system we’re testing for XtremeAg. We installed the system on one of the DB planters. The system is designed to deliver a concentrated dose of in-furrow product exactly at each seed location.

Kevin Matthews and an assistant look at a furrow to calibrate the SelectShot system installed.
Photo credit: XtremeAg

If successful, the system should reduce the amount of product used per acre while increasing the amount of fertility at each seed location. This is our first year running the system and we are looking forward to comparing data with our other DB planters that are running The Closer system from Integrated Ag Solutions. We tried The Closer system on four row units last season and were impressed with the results. 

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