Farmers anxious to plant

Farm Forum

A cold, snowy April has pushed back spring planting, but farmers are still optimistic that there will be enough time to grow a good crop.

“We are definitely two weeks behind because of this goofy spring, and we are probably a month behind where we were last year,” said Lance Hanson, who farms east of Columbia.

Typically, most corn is planted by the end of April, but this year, Hanson said he doesn’t think he will plant it until May 10. Until then, he is making sure his implements are ready to roll.

“It is hard not to be able to get in the fields when you are ready, but it doesn’t pay to get in a hurry,” he said.

Corn seed comes in varieties with different maturity dates, usually between 90 and 100 days. Hanson said most farmers should still be able to use 100- and 95-day corn varieties, even though the growing season will be shorter this year.

Most crop insurance plans don’t allow a farmer to plant corn before April 15 or after May 25 without having a reduction in coverage.

The conditions for planting in the Columbia area are good, Hanson said. There is adequate topsoil moisture to germinate the seeds. While subsoil moisture is low, some late spring and early summer rains could rectify that, he said.

“We had a nice 2-inch rain last fall that Aberdeen did not get,” he said. “We are in pretty good shape.”

Mark Rosenberg, agronomy weeds specialist at the SDSU Aberdeen Regional Extension Office, said the late spring will make for a tight window for field preparation and planting. All the weed control and fertilizing might not get done before seeding is required.

“I wouldn’t be alarmed,” he said. “Farmers can accomplish a lot in a short period of time. They can go pretty fast.”

While there hasn’t been much activity in the fields, there have been a few farmers planting wheat.

Jim Klebsch, who farms several areas around Redfield, said he started planting wheat on April 29.

“As far as planting conditions go, everything is great,” he said. “There is enough moisture in the soil to get us going.”

While the area needs rain to replenish subsoil moisture, it would be better if the rain would hold off for a while so farmers can plant crops, several farmers said.

“Let’s get it planted; then, we will worry about the rain,” Klebsch said.

Soil temperatures now are too low to allow seeds to germinate, but Klebsch said he would rather get the seeds sown now. They can sit in the ground for a while without there being a problem, he said.

After wheat he will turn his attention to corn. He said he can plant 300 to 400 acres a day with his 24-row corn planter. Larger equipment allows farmers to get work done quickly, which is especially helpful when there is a late spring, he said.

Cory Eberhart, who farms near Java in Walworth County, said he hadn’t been able to get into the fields at all in April, but planned to start planting wheat soon. He said topsoil moisture in his area was good. He expects to start planting corn soon.

He said his corn should mature in 86 to 93 days, which should work fine for his area.

Eberhart said he has a little more leeway on his corn crop because he operates a feed lot. If the corn fails to mature in time or is wet, he can feed it to his cattle.

Overall, he is optimistic that seeds will be sown in plenty of time to take advantage of a full growing season.

“You can get a lot of acres planted in a short period of time,” he said.

Eberhart said he has a 40-foot air seeder for wheat and a 16-row planter for corn.

Hanson said that what farmers need now is for temperatures to get into the 70s to warm up the soil.

“I guess we just forgot about spring,” he said. “We can go straight into summer.”

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Setting the record straight on crop insurance. See Page 95F.

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