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Planting 2018 vs. Planting 2017

April continues with little progress in the field, but farmers have planting on their mind. Across the Corn Belt some growers are getting anxious, while others take a more laid-back approach.

Scrolling through social media, it’s clear the 2018 planting season looks a lot different than last year.

A report published Wednesday, April 18, 2018, by Kyle Tapley of Radiant Solutions says, “April 2018 is expected to finish up as the coldest April in the U.S. Corn Belt since 1950.”

His data suggests, “While a cold April can contribute to significant planting delays, it alone is not enough to guarantee late planting of the corn crop in the U.S.”


Last year, Jerry Groth in Ida Grove, Iowa, started his planting season on April 8, 2017. Snow covered the ground exactly a year later. More snow showers are in the forecast for the area today.

Corinne Row had cattle grazing on lush green grass on April 14 in central Iowa last year. Now conditions are quite different.

Maps from the Iowa Environmental Mesonet indicate dramatic differences in soil temperature between the last two seasons.

Planting looks a way off for farmers who still have snow on the ground. Winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories are in effect for the northern part of the state.

“A wintry mix of precipitation is expected on the southern edge into portions of central Iowa, as well,” the NWS said in a report early Wednesday morning.


In other parts of the Corn Belt, planting season is on hold due to soil temperatures. Tapley’s report shows current soil temperatures between 30°F. and 40°F. for most of the state of Nebraska.

The most recent USDA Crop Progress report indicates Nebraska corn planting is just 2% behind where it was last year at this time.

Maybe more concerning in Nebraska are the oat statistics. In 2017 at this time, 65% of the oat crop was planted and 23% had emerged. So far, just 35% of the Nebraska oat crop is in the ground with 4% emerged.


Corn needs soil temperatures in the 50s to support germination. Tapley predicts the soil to reach those levels in Missouri and Illinois by next week.

So far on Jenny Schweigert’s Illinois farm rearranging the machine shed is the extent of planting progress. While their cropping operation is small, her family was within days of finishing the planting season on this day a year ago.

Corey Ritter farms in central Illinois. Last year at this time he and his family were in the cab planting together. He hopes to be in the field by the end of the week.

Rob Sharkey was also planting at this time last year, but he isn’t stressing. “I don’t worry about what I can’t control,” says the Illinois farmer.


Brian Scott raises corn, soybeans, popcorn, and wheat in Indiana. He is also patiently waiting for planting conditions to be right.

No corn planting activity was reported for Indiana in the Crop Progress Report.

While current soil moisture is close to average for this time of year, soil temperatures in Indiana are 15°F. below the 10-year average.


Ohio farmer Charlie Maag will not be planting today, either. On April 17, 2017, his family started the planting season. A dusting of snow covered fields a year later.

Mike Plotner recalls putting down potash this time last year.

While no corn planting has been reported in the state so far, that is typical for this time of year according to the five-year average.

North Dakota

Paul Anderson in North Dakota has a unique approach in hopes of speeding along planting season on his farm. After a recent blizzard, he took to the field with a harrow to disrupt the flat reflective surface of the snow.

“I want the snow to melt to become water for the crop and the sun to warm my soil to plant my seeds on time,” he tweeted. Anderson is documenting his “snowtill” progress on Twitter.

According to the crop progress report, North Dakota does not usually have corn in the ground at this point.

South Dakota

Chet Edinger farms near Mitchell, South Dakota. This week last year, Edinger was applying fertilizer and checking his emerged spring wheat. This year, his planter is still covered in snow.

This morning looked more like Christmas than planting season on Chris Breen’s South Dakota farm.

Tapley calls for more snow in eastern South Dakota over the coming days.

New York

Pete Kemmeren was hoping to spread manure this week, just like he did last year. Mother Nature had a different idea.

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