Farmers Eyeing Both Weather and Calender to Start Planting

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

DELAWARE COUNTY, Iowa - U.S. Agriculture Department figures show as of Sunday only eight percent of Iowa's corn crop is in the ground. And that's the slowest start to a critical planting season since 1995.

The five-year average figure for Iowa farmers is 56 percent of the corn crop in the ground by this date. However, wet cool weather has delayed the start of planting statewide.

Delaware County farmer Bruce Knipper, who farms north of Hopkinton, was truly bucking the statistics by getting his planting process started on Tuesday. Knipper was using a field cultivator to prepare the ground and will begin planting corn, weather willing, on Wednesday.

Knipper said his part of Delaware County got a little less rain than elsewhere last week. That's probably the only reason he was able to get out ahead of many of his neighbors. He was also planning to plant on just the hilly sections of the land where the soil has dried out a little faster.

"Most farmers I talk to say something like their anxious to go but field conditions aren't right yet. I think a lot of them will go today (Tuesday) or tomorrow (Wednesday)," Knipper said.

Knipper, like many eastern Iowa farmers, has an anxious eye on the calendar. Statistic show corn planted after May 10th begins to lose yield. So farmers won't want to waste any time just as soon as it's dry enough to get in the fields

"Any time after the 10th (of May) you start losing yield. It's maybe as much as 10 percent. So it does make a difference," Knipper said.

Knipper said only about a third of his farm is dry enough to start planting now. As for the rest, he said if the fields are too wet and the ground's too cold then all you can do is wait despite the calendar.
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