Monday, May 4, 2009
Getting stuck on "dry ground"
Kelley Kokemiller takes a break to talk planting progress
Sunday afternoon, as USDA would be wrapping up its weekly Crop Progress report, I took a windshield tour of my own backyard—about a 50-mile stretch of country roads north of Des Moines. I’ve always thought this area to be a good example of Iowa’s best cropland--mostly gently rolling, well-drained, black soils. Syngenta, Pioneer, and Monsanto produce seed in the area; the farmers here usually have a good jump on planting, it seems.
Last time I drove this route was early June ‘08, when farmers were still waiting to get back in the field and finish up planting after a long rain delay, just as the watershed was about ready to send the full force of its waters down river to flood Des Moines.
This year so far, a different story is emerging. While it’s been cool and wet, there's been enough of a window for farmers to plant corn in a timely fashion.
In half an hour of driving on Sunday, though, I didn't see a wheel turning, other than guys riding their lawnmowers.
Finally, I stopped at a farm to check in with a grower I’d visited before. The family was getting ready to spray beans in a river bottom area nearby.
I drove over to a field where Kelley Kokemiller was about to make his last round with the sprayer, ahead of the first soybeans to be planted. The bottomland field’s sandy soils had dried out enough to plant, but most ground in the area was still too wet to go, even though it looked dry on top
“This field is dry but everything else around here is too wet to plant. My brother was just in another field and said he nearly got the pickup stuck,” Kelley said.
“We had four inches of rain recently,” he said. “It looks good from the road, but when you get out in the field you’ll find a lot of wet spots out there.”
Kelley said the family has planted all its corn (“for the first time anyway.”) Most farmers in the area have most, if not all, of their corn planted, and a few beans are in the ground, too, he said.
But, as planting season continues, with rain in the forecast and wet soils below the surface, the “game is still on the table” in central Iowa.
Hope planting's progressing well in your part of the country.
Posted by John Walter at 6:46 PM