According to this week's USDA crop progress report, 18% of Iowa's corn crop has been planted as of May 4, well behind the 42% that had been planted a year ago and the 5-year average of 64% for that date. However, those percentages don't explain where in the state the corn has been planted, say Iowa State University Extension specialists.
"What the statewide percentages don't reflect is the majority of the corn planted is along the western side of state," says Roger Elmore, ISU Extension corn agronomist. The crop planting progress report was released May 5 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of USDA.
Some farmers in western Iowa are nearly done planting corn, says Elmore, with virtually no corn planted in central Iowa when the data were collected for the USDA report earlier this week. "Earlier this week it was a different story, as central Iowa farmers were getting in the fields. Unfortunately, Tuesday night rains again fell and that will slow planting progress for a good share of Iowa's corn growers," notes Elmore.
Drier than normal forecast for 6 to 10 days
It looks like Iowa farmers will have a window of opportunity to get corn planted, says Elwynn Taylor, ISU Extension climatologist. The new six to 10-day outlook from the National Weather Service shows a drier weather pattern for Iowa after Thursday, May 8.
Elmore is looking forward to drier weather to get his ISU Extension research plots planted. "The most important day in the corn plant's life is the day it's planted. The optimum yield potential is imbedded in the genetics of that seed. When you put it in a poor environment you are going to get poor results," he said. "We experienced that last spring which was also very wet and it ended up that much of Iowa's corn crop was mudded-in, planted in wet soil conditions."
"The research plots are timed, many of them, because we want to be able to know the effect of early, standard and late planting," says Taylor. But sometimes the weather does not cooperate. "Sometimes we get the early planting data; sometimes we do not, because we don't want to destroy the plot or the potential for that plot by planting when the weather is not ideal. These are all important considerations in research and production," says Taylor.
To listen to the complete interview with Elmore and Taylor recorded on May 5, click HERE.