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Row Crop Roundup -May 8, 2013 (Michigan, Indiana, Illinois)

Michigan farmers are almost as far behind schedule with this year’s spring field work as they were ahead of schedule at this time last year.

Continued wet weather with cooler than normal temperatures is keeping most farmers out of the fields, according to last week’s report from the Michigan field office of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Paul Gross, Michigan State University extension educator in Isabella County, said, “It’s wet. From a growing degree days standpoint, we are almost a month behind last year, and one to two weeks behind normal.”

Gross said field work in central Michigan is limited to well-drained fields that are a lighter soil type, such as sand.

According to the NASS report, no corn was reported planted. At this time last year 26 percent of the state’s corn crop was in, up from the five-year average of 17 percent. Gross said farmers in his area may just be getting in the fields to plant corn, but it’s “not a significant amount.”

“We just have to be patient,” Gross said. “We need to let the fields dry out and not necessarily look at the calendar. Old timers always say you plant when the ground is right – that’s good advice.”
The slow, wet spring has taken its toll on other crop progress as well. According to NASS, farmers reported that 14 percent of the state’s oat crop is in, down from 84 percent last year and a five-year average of 58 percent. At this time last year, 100 percent of the state’s sugarbeet crop was planted. This year, farmers report only 7 percent is in. 

On a bright note, farmers reported that 87 percent of the state’s winter wheat crop is in fair to excellent condition, while 72 percent of pastures are listed fair to excellent.
By Shelly Strautz-Springborn
Michigan Correspondent


Water-logged soil has delayed planting in much of Indiana, but it’s difficult to say when planting will start.

“I’ve heard some corn was planted early this year in southern Miami County,” said Gary Horner, extension agent for Miami County. “It will need to be replanted (due to wet conditions).”

According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service’s (NASS) Crop & Weather Report for the week ending April 28, one percent of the intended crop acreage had been planted compared with 67 percent last year and 30 percent for the five-year average. Soybean planting remains on hold.

“We’re all getting a little eager for weather to dry out,” Horner said. “We can’t do anything about it. When it dries out, work will get done quickly.” Almost all of Indiana received 15 inches of rain in the 180 days from late October through April, according to NASS. Most of the state received more precipitation than normal. Large areas of Indiana have gotten as much as four to eight inches above normal rain.

Soil might dry out a little sooner as isolated thunderstorms are not predicted until Thursday in the Fort Wayne area, according to The Weather Channel forecast. Forty-seven percent of winter wheat is jointed, according to NASS. This compares with 85 percent last year and 60 percent for the five-year average. Winter wheat conditions are rated 70 percent good to excellent compared with 75 percent last year at the same time.

Weeds are “prevalent,” Horner said. “We will be spraying and tilling, but not more than usual,” he said.
By Laurie Kiefaber
Indiana Correspondent


“Wet fields are the topic for most farmers across the state,” understated the April 29 issuance of USDA-NASS’ Illinois Crop Report. “Corn planting is still at only 1 percent. Last year at this time, corn planted was at 76 percent and the five-year average for corn planting is 36 percent.”

Nothing much has changed across most of Illinois since that report was issued; in many areas, weather conditions worsened after a sweeping series of storms soaked the state May 2-4. Many Illinois farmers found themselves abandoning chores such as planter and equipment preparation, instead filling and stacking sandbags to protect agricultural levees, streambanks or entire communities from rising waters.

Some Illinois farmers should get a break from the relentless rainfall that has gripped the state – especially in the Illinois River watershed – starting this week, according to Jim Angel, state climatologist for the Illinois Water Survey.

“After this system is out of the way, we don’t have anything coming in until probably next weekend,” Angel said on May 3. “It is supposed to be fairly warm with highs in the 70s across the state. Some farmers may be able to plant by the end of the week, but in most places it’s going to continue to be too wet.”

The latest crop report rated topsoil moisture levels at 45 percent adequate and 55 percent surplus, while subsoil moisture levels averaged 72 percent adequate and 25 percent surplus. The most recent round of storms will only serve to exacerbate saturated soil conditions around the state, Angel predicted.

“We’re getting rains once a week, so just about the time fields are drying out, we get another batch of rain. That and continued cold temperatures are conspiring to keep farmers out of their fields,” he said.

University of Illinois crop experts advise farmers that later planting does not guarantee lower yields – unless other issues pile on. Rushing in to plant before conditions are optimal, however, can definitely lead to lower yields. U of I crop sciences professor Emerson Nafziger has written two articles on corn planting delays for the U of I’s Bulletin, available online at
By Tim Alexander
Illinois Correspondent