'This is probably the worst one I can remember': Farmers struggle in wet planting season

Published: May. 26, 2019 at 8:43 PM CDT
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Sunday’s sunshine received a warm welcome from eastern Iowa farmers, many of whom have been struggling with planting this season.

Among them is Denny Sejkora, who estimates he’s been farming almost all of his 70-plus years alive and has never experienced a season as bad as this one because of how wet it has been.

However, Sejkora remains optimistic.

“We’ll get it done eventually,” he said.

In addition to the wet weather, he’s been dealing with fields that just won’t dry up. Sejkora only recently got the last of his corn in the ground for this year.

“Starts and fits would characterize the way we’ve worked in the field,” he said. “We’d get a bunch done, and then we’d take a break for the rain, let it dry out a little bit.”

But he can’t say the same about his soybeans.

The weather has only allowed him to plant about a quarter of his crop so far. The latest U.S. Department of Agriculture crop report said that puts him on pace with the average across the state, which is 27%.

Normally, about half the state’s soybeans would be in the ground by now.

Sejkora said he’s usually well ahead of that by Memorial Day Weekend.

“We would be done by this time,” he said.

Sejkora said he hopes to have his full soybean crop planted by the Fourth of July, weather permitting.

But the rain-related issues don’t stop there for him.

Sejkora also makes hay for local farms, but he doesn’t start that until all his crops are planted, and once again, the weather is not working in his favor.

“It’s growing too fast, so it needs to be made because if it’s over-mature, it loses its feed value,” he said. “But you’ve gotta make hay when the sun shines, and one day is not enough to dry a hay crop.”

Even recent flooding in the Quad Cities has brought its own bad luck to the Marion farmer.

“We had April beans that haven’t moved yet because the terminal at Davenport, the river was too high,” he said. “They couldn’t move anything out, and the elevator’s full.”

Sejkora said a day or two of dry weather won’t be enough to take care of his fields, but he is confident they’ll dry up eventually.

“There’s hope,” he said. “We’ve just got to find the window and be ready when the opportunity arises.”