Tough Spring For Farmers
Despite a relatively dry winter and spring, saturated ground and untimely moisture has made for an extremely difficult spring planting season for area producers.
In addition, Mother Nature has provided limited warm, drying weather to help prepare fields for planting. Warmer temperatures are forecast for this week, but there are also rain chances for Memorial Day weekend.
“The soil is just so saturated from the bottom up and there hasn’t been any heat or sun to dry it out,” said Full Circle Ag Agronomist Joe Gustafson. “We probably only have about a third of the corn acres planted, and I’ve never seen it that low for this time of year. But things could change rapidly if the weather improves.”
The crop insurance deadline for corn is May 25, while the soybean deadline is June 10.
It’s even worse in the Langford Area, according to Chad Voss of the Agtegra location in Langford.
“This is the worst I’ve seen in the 34 years I’ve been doing this,” noted Voss. “The subsoil is really saturated and we can’t hold any rains at all. We get about 99 percent runoff every time it rains because the soils can’t hold anything, and the hills have never been so wet as they are right now all the way through the whole soil profile.”
As a result, Voss estimates that only about five percent of the corn crop has been planted to date in the Langford area. That compares to a typical year when 50-70 percent of corn acres are in the ground at this point of the planting season
Ḟarmers could be facing similar problems when it comes to planting soybean acres.
“Most of the soybeans are planted on last year’s corn ground, and the corn stubble is really wet and needs to dry out,” said Gustafson.
“There’s going to be a lot of prevent plant acres,” predicted Voss. “We won’t know for a couple more weeks how large that’s going to be, but if we get another two or three inches of rain it is going to be really light on soybean planting, too.”
Voss said soil conditions are also misleading as evidenced by local producers getting stuck in fields.
“We haven’t had a lot of guys getting stuck with equipment because most of them have not been out yet because they know it’s too wet,” said Voss. “But they are getting stuck a lot with their pickups, and that’s not a good sign be cause nobody knows their fields better than the farmer.”
Right now area producers are putting a lot of faith in Mother Nature.
“We’re just hoping for 30 days of warmer, normal weather,” said Voss.
“In May we get into more moisture from the Gulf of Mexico with chances for big rains, but we need to miss those,” stressed Gustafson. “Low markets just add insult to injury, but it’s a storm we’re going to have to all weather together.”