Recent rain keeping farmers out of fields

Farm Forum

While farmers have about 80 percent of their soybeans planted, many are still scrambling to get that last 20 percent in the ground.

The sense of urgency is real. Each day past June 10, the day that crop insurance coverage begins to decrease for soybeans, there is a risk of smaller yields.

The planting season got a late start because of a record-setting cold, snowy April. Corn planting went well with a stretch of dry weather the first 15 days of May.

Since May 15, however, rain has made it difficult for farmers to get back into the field.

From May 15 through June 9, Aberdeen recorded a trace or more of rainfall for 19 of the 26 days or 73 percent of the time period, according to the National Weather Service Aberdeen office.

Aberdeen has received 5.18 inches of rain since mid-May. The May rain total of 4.32 inches of rain was 1.21 inches more than the average May, according to the service.

“It has been a fight to get (soybeans) planted the last three weeks,” said David Clark, agronomist with Wheat Growers.

Planting rates have varied depending on location. Areas north of Aberdeen, which had better subsoil moisture going into the spring, are now too wet.

Probably 5 percent of the fields in the area are drowned out and won’t be planted, Clark said.

Mike Frey, who farms northeast of Claremont, said his corn is planted and that he has 25 to 15 percent of his soybeans remaining to plant.

“We have had a little too much rain,” he said. “But I am not complaining. It is as good as it’s been since the flooding started up here five years ago.”

He will continue to plant, even though yields will likely go down.

“The bottom line is that I need to get some kind of crop on those acres,” he said. “I’ll get no help with Prevent Plant (payments) on that land, so if I have to plant millet or sorghum in July, I will. I have the advantage of having livestock. I can chop the crop for forage.”

Statewide, 82 percent of soybean planting is complete, according to the USDA weekly crop report released on June 10.

Clark said he estimates about 80 percent of the soybeans have been planted in this area.

On average, 85 percent of the soybeans have been planted by this time, according to the USDA. Last spring, which was dry and warm, 98 percent of the soybeans had been planted.

Of the soybeans planted, 47 percent have emerged from the ground, which is less than last year’s 86 percent and the 53 percent average, according to the USDA.

Harry Pharis, a Groton-area farmer, said he was able to plant all his soybeans before the major stretch of rain. One reason he was able to do it was the size of the equipment, he said.

For example, 750 acres were planted in one day when two regular 60-foot planters were used, he said.

Pharis said he is optimistic about the chances of a good corn and soybean crop, despite the late start.

“Oh, it is going to get hot and dry,” he said. “It usually does.”

Corn especially needs heat.

“We got to have some sunshine,” Pharis said. “That corn right now is looking kind of yellow. It needs some heat and some warm nights.”

Clark said that if soybeans can get planted by June 20, there is still a chance of a decent crop. If farmers can get the crop in by then, they can still get 90 percent of their top yield, he said.

Crop insurance coverage typically goes down 1 percent per day after June 10, he said.

The moisture this spring has, on balance, been very good for farmers, he said. The subsoil moisture has been replenished and set the stage for a good start for plant growth.

“I am optimistic,” he said. “We have some really good potential. It is a little slow now with the cool weather, but a couple of weeks in the 80s will really change things in a hurry.”

Frey said he is optimistic about his crop. The soil has enough moisture to allow plants to grow into July, and after that it depends a lot on the timing of the rains, he said.

“Now we are just ready for some sunshine,” he said.

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