Wet weather leads to crop planting delays for Iowa farmers

Published: May. 14, 2019 at 3:11 PM CDT
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Farmers in Linn County haven't been out in the fields as much as they've liked, and in some cases are drastically behind schedule.

Brian Lensch planted some corn three weeks ago. But the spikes, or the first above-ground signs of growth, are a different color than usual: yellow instead of bright green. And that's due to unusual spring conditions.

"It's yellow. It'll come out of it I'm sure but we need some warm temperatures to get things moving along,” Lensch said.

The wet season is also causing other challenges for Lensch Farms. Farmers have only planted about a third of their fields, but usually they’re done planting at this time of year.

"It could have a potential to have yield loss,” Lensch said.

Lensch said this is a regional issue.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its latest report for the percent of fields planted with corn crops: 48 percent of Iowa farms are planted now compared to a five year average of 76 percent. In Minnesota, 21 percent are planted now, compared to 65 percent average. And Illinois has some startling numbers, with only 11 percent planted, compared to 82 percent average.

Farmers say it'll take some changing conditions to get on track.

Lensch also cites global markets as a potential concern. He watches the numbers closely each day, and hopes the numbers change to reflect growing conditions. Lensch said it's concerning, especially given the growing price of corn in recent years.

"The corn market is not worth what is putting it in the ground, but you always have an opportunity to get it sold. That's why you're a good farmer you got to keep your pencil sharpened and know your numbers,” Lensch said.