By DOUG SCHMITZ
DES MOINES, Iowa – Planting and field work have progressed at a fairly rapid rate after a brief cool and wet period in mid-April, despite the Midwest and much of the Corn Belt experiencing widespread rainfall and severe weather the past few weeks, according to Justin Glisan, State Climatologist of Iowa.
“Warmer temperatures through early May have helped accumulating Growing Degree Day units (used to calculate the current growth stage of a crop), and hence, the emerging crop is moving right along,” he said. “Several hail events have caused damage to alfalfa that was looking great after nice rainfalls, and ideal growing conditions.”
However, he added, “We haven’t seen widespread damage to row crops as the events occurred before emergence, or in the early phases of emergence.”
Dennis Todey, director of the USDA Midwest Climate Hub in Ames, Iowa, said, “Generally, conditions have been good. Early warmth in April allowed for a quicker start in southern parts of the Corn Belt,” adding, “Colder and wetter conditions in the rest of April slowed progress a bit.”
He said warmth in the last couple weeks has allowed planting on corn and soybeans to move quickly again in most of the Midwest.
“In Ohio and Michigan, progress has been slower,” he said. “Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and south, are ahead on corn and soybeans. Ohio and the northern states are behind the five-year average. There has been some dryness over several parts of this area.
“For the most part, the dryness has been beneficial to planting progress,” he added. “In a few cases, the dryness has led to other problems (i.e., blowing dust). Some rain has started over the drier areas in the last seven days (May 3-10) over Iowa, Illinois, and western parts of Kentucky, and Tennessee.”
He said cold in late April did damage trees and possibly some specialty crops in parts of Ohio.
“There was a sweet corn grower who was burning, trying to help protect their sweet corn from the cold,” he said. “The cold also may have done some damage to the early-planting corn and soybeans from sitting in colder and wetter ground for an extended period of time. Overall, damage is being assessed, and may not be known for a while.”
In Indiana, planting progress advanced, despite cool temperatures the week ending May 7, said State Statistician Nathanial Warenski.
“Soil moisture levels decreased slightly from the previous week, with 87 percent of topsoil moisture reported as adequate or surplus,” he said.” The average temperature for the week was 53.7 degrees F, 3.4 degrees below normal for the state.”
Indiana’s corn and soybean planting progress continued ahead of its respective five-year averages, the state’s report said.
“Winter wheat also continued ahead of its five-year average,” the state’s report said. “Winter wheat condition improved from the previous week, with 78 percent of the crop rated in good-to-excellent condition.”
In Illinois, there were six suitable days for field work during the week ending May 7. Corn planted reached 73 percent, compared to the five-year average of 46 percent. Corn emerged reached 17 percent, compared to the five-year average of 14 percent.
Soybeans planted reached 66 percent, compared to the five-year average of 28 percent. Soybeans emerged reached 14 percent, compared to the five-year average of six percent. Winter wheat headed was 39 percent, compared to the five-year average of 27 percent. Winter wheat condition was rated 1 percent very poor, to and 11 percent excellent.
In Michigan, precipitation and freezing temperatures continued to slow fieldwork throughout most of the state, according to Marlo D. Johnson, director of the USDA Great Lakes Regional Office.
She said sugar beet planting progress was ahead of historical averages, with the winter wheat crop remaining in mostly good-to-fair condition.
“Low soil temperatures continued to slow emergence and growth for oats, barley, corn, and soybeans,” she said. “Producers continued to report an abundance of moisture in fields and pastures. Other activities during the week included fertilizing where conditions allowed, spring tillage, and spreading manure.”
In Ohio, another week of below-average temperatures and scattered showers inhibited fieldwork the week ending May 7.
“Farmers referenced cool, wet soil as having limited row crop germination and emergence last week,” the state’s report said. “Adequate conditions for evaporation later in the week made field work possible on lighter soils before the arrival of a weekend storm.”
Ohio corn and soybean planting progress inched forward to 11 and 16 percent planted, respectively. Oat progress reached 79 percent planted, and 49 percent emerged. Winter wheat advanced to 85 percent jointed and 1 percent headed, and winter wheat crop condition was rated 67 percent good to excellent, up slightly from the previous week.
In Iowa, 41 percent of the state’s expected corn crop was planted during the week ending May 7.
“Over the last week, farmers made significant planting progress before late-week thunderstorms brought much needed moisture, along with unwanted hail and high winds,” said Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig. “Rain chances continue this week, but weather outlooks through mid-May are shifting towards warmer temperatures, and somewhat drier conditions.”
Glisan said, “Much of the corn and a good amount of soybean crop has been planted in Iowa, with early-planted corn emerging.”
The state report said six percent of the corn crop has emerged, six days ahead of last year, but a day behind average. One-third of Iowa’s expected soybean crop, or 49 percent, was planted. Ninety-six percent of Iowa’s expected oat crop has been planted. Oat emergence, at 61 percent, and the first hay condition rating of the season was 1 percent very poor, to 10 percent excellent.
In Kentucky, with both corn and soybean planting running ahead of last year and the five-year average, both crops are emerging, despite the cool temperatures, and experiencing below-normal temperatures and rainfall over the past week, the state’s report said.
Primary activities for the week included planting corn and soybeans, along with preparation for tobacco setting; winter wheat condition remains mostly good, with 68 percent of the crop headed.
“A small percentage of tobacco is in the ground and setting will ramp up as weather permits,” the state’s report said.” The majority of the week was cool and dry; however, the weekend brought some scattered rain and storms. There was some early morning frost present in some areas of the state.”
In West Tennessee, the week ending May 7 was great for producers to plant more corn, cotton, and soybeans.
“The wheat crop looked good, and fungicides were applied,” the state’s report said. “Several acres of wheat in some parts of West Tennessee were harvested for wheat haylage. Cotton growers were waiting for consistent warm weather before planting their crops.”
In Middle Tennessee, abundant sunshine and wind dried topsoil moisture, allowing growers to plant row crops early last week, the state’s report said. Rain moved in later in the week and provided recharged soil moisture levels. Pasture and hay field production are down because of lack of moisture earlier in the year. Corn planting was almost finished.
In East Tennessee corn planting was finishing, the state’s report said. Limited hay growth was reported, and winter wheat that survived last December’s cold spell has turned into a nice crop, the state’s report said. The first hay cutting is expected to be of lower quality than traditionally expected due to changing weather patterns earlier this year.
Glisan said, “Short-term outlooks towards the third week of May are showing higher probabilities of warmer temperatures across the western Corn Belt, to near-normal temperatures in the eastern Corn Belt, and Appalachians. We’re also seeing a slightly elevated signal for a drier pattern spanning much of the Corn Belt.”
Todey said through the rest of May into early June, overall chances lean toward cooler temperatures, and a slightly better chance of drier conditions.
“The cold does not seem to be severe enough to be damaging,” he said, “but will probably slow crop progress a little. The dryness also probably will not be a major issue.
“We are still early enough in the growing season and soils are not excessively dry in any of the areas to be a problem yet,” he added. “It will have to be monitored. Drier early in the growing season promotes root development, which can actually be beneficial.”