Iowa weather causing some delays for spring planting

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WATERLOO — Many farmers are playing a waiting game with the weather to finish their spring planting.

Early May storms and wide-ranging temperatures have led to poor field conditions, causing some delays.

Parts of Northeast Iowa had more than four times normal totals in the early part of May, according to an Iowa Crop Progress and Condition report.

Temperatures across Iowa last week ranged from 38 to 87 degrees last week, the coldest marked in Cresco on May 12.

“Field conditions haven’t been conducive,” said Dustin Sage, of Sage Family Farms in Dunkerton. “We’ve had rain and it’s not drying out.”

Across Northeast Iowa, farmers have planted 51 percent of their corn crop and 27 percent of soybeans, slightly behind the 5-year average, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

While some farmers got all of their seeds in before recent rain, others are waiting for the soil to dry out before continuing.

Sage said overall the soil has been dry since last fall.

“We haven’t had the rain like we normally get,” noting farther north the ground is excessively wet.

The USDA reports topsoil moisture in Northeast Iowa has a 31 percent surplus, while subsoil moisture has a 20 percent surplus.

Sage was able to plant 800 acres of corn last week and plans to get started on his 700 acres of soybeans today.

“We’re only running a week behind what I was last year,” he said.

Five-year averages show planting may be behind this year, but a look beyond to past decades, when crops were typically planted around Mother’s Day, shows this is actually the typical time for planting, according to Sage.

“The way the weather patterns fell the last few years we got used to planting in April,” he said. “We’re back to more what it used to be in the late ’90s.”

But Sage isn’t too concerned with the weather’s impact on his crops.

“I’ve planted corn on June 3 and still got a decent crop. That was back in 2013 when it wouldn’t quit raining,” he said.

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