Iowa Field Reports, April 25 – Slow Start to #Plant18

    ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Images

    It has been a slow start to #Plant18 in Iowa. The cooler and wet weather has kept many farmers out of the fields despite the fact that it is getting to be the end of April. Spring finally seems to have arrived (or at least for parts of Iowa), and with that farmers are not wasting anytime getting to spring field activities.

    Iowa State University Extension and Outreach field agronomists share reports on what they are seeing and hearing in their respected regions with field conditions and planting progress.

    Northwest Iowa

    Joel DeJong (Region 1): “Nothing happening yet here, but you probably know that. Soil temps are up into the 40’s at least. Most of the snow if gone (northern counties have more) but with today’s temps it should rapidly disappear. Waiting to dry out, and then progress will begin. I suspect some planting by the end of the week, but some might try sooner. Still wait and see.”

    Paul Kassel (Region 2):  “Soil moisture reserves are often a topic of conversation this time of year.  Some areas – in parts of Pocahontas, Sac and Buena Vista county – were really dry last summer.  And even though the cool wet snowy weather has been the focus of attention lately that dry weather concern still lingers.

    “The figures below are the actual rainfall for the Northwest, North Central and West Central counties in Iowa.  The fall dates are after the crop was mature or nearly mature and before soils were frozen last fall.  About 80% of this rainfall could be expected to contribute to soil moisture reserves.

    “The spring dates should be after soil profiles were no longer frozen. As the total amounts suggest – we expect to have decent amounts of soil moisture as we head into the spring field work time frame.”


    9/15 – 12/15/2017

    4/1 – 4/23/2018


    ————————–rainfall, inches ————————-













    Note: CRD = Crop Reporting District.

    Water flows easily from this tile outlet in Clay County. Photo by Paul Kassel.

    North Central Iowa

    Angie Rieck-Hinz (Region 3): “Not much is happening yet. South of Hwy 3, fertilizer and herbicide applications started on Saturday (April 21) and are picking up steadily as the week progresses. There are some scattered reports of corn in the ground, but planting will start in earnest Wednesday (April 25) if we don’t receive any precipitation from this next system.

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    “North of Hwy 3, soil conditions have warmed up, but soils are still wet, with snow still in the fence lines. It will likely be 10 days before folks can get in the field around the Mason City area and to the north.”

    Central Iowa

    Mark Johnson (Region 7): “Very little field work is going on. We have some anhydrous being applied. Many field appear ready for planting. I talked with one farmer who planted 130 acres in Polk County on Sunday and things went well. On a good day he can get 300 acres planted. So, if all goes well, the farmer plans to finish planting his corn this week yet.”

    Southwest and West Central

    Aaron Saeugling (Region 6):  “A lot of field activity is underway. We have such a wide variety of activities including seeding alfalfa, planting corn, planting soybeans, fertilizer applications, spraying, and cover crop termination. Field conditions are good right now.

    “Most have dry conditions and base on the upcoming forecast, I see producers aggressively in the field. Pasture conditions are poor with slow growth. We could use some rainfall in addition to the heat to spark some growth.”

    Southeast and East Central:

    Rebecca Vittetoe (Region 8): “Towards the end of last week field activities started to pick up in this part of the state. Activities range from fertilizer application and spraying to spring tillage and planting. I expect to see a lot of farmers out and about this week. Early seeded oats have started to emerge.

    “Overwintering cover crops, like cereal rye, have finally started to green-up and actually grow, and the weather this week should be could for terminating cover crops. Pastures and hay fields are slowly starting to green back up, but could really benefit from some rain in addition to the heat we are finally getting We’ve got some moisture in the soil profile, but we are still on the dry side here.”

    Meaghan Anderson (Region 9): “Finally, it seems like spring has come and field work really got started over the weekend.  Surprisingly, in my travels from Des Moines back to eastern Iowa on Monday, I counted only 8 tractors in fields.  Some farmers are just beginning to plant, while others are finishing up anhydrous, spraying weeds and cover crops, and doing final tillage passes. 

    “Now is a great time to be spraying winter cereal rye, as long as it has enough growth to meet your goals; we suggest waiting 10-14 days after terminating rye to plant corn.  I expect a lot more work to get finished in coming days with such a beautiful forecast and much yet to get done.”

    Virgil Schmitt (Region 10):  “I ran from Muscatine County to Scott County this morning and several tractors were in the field. This is the first serious activity I’ve seen so far this spring. The activity was fertilizer and tillage; I did not see any planters in the field, but I did see some poised to spring into action; I anticipate that planting will be in full swing by the end of the week.”

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