Survey Shows Extensive Need For Replanting

Flooding, erosion, hail, damaged crop stands have farmers weighing their options.

Flooding and wet weather the past week has hurt crops in a wide area of Iowa and a significant amount of corn and soybeans need to be replanted.

An estimated 17% of Iowa's corn crop and 17% of the state's soybean crop need to be either replanted or planted for the first time. That's according to the weekly crop and weather conditions report released June 16 by Iowa Ag Statistics Service, the Iowa office of USDA's National Ag Statistics Service.

The government survey says Iowa's corn conditions now rate 49% good or excellent, a decline from last week's 56% good or excellent. Soybean conditions also are 49% good or excellent, down from last week's 53%.

Many hope to replant to beans

Two key figures in this week's report are an estimate of flooded crop acres. It says 9% of Iowa's corn acres have been flooded, 8% of the soybean acres have been flooded.

Flooding in fields along creeks and rivers has caused a significant amount of soil erosion and has washed out corn and soybean stands. Yellowing and stunting of the corn crop also is widespread. Adding insult to injury, hail in a few localized areas shredded corn plants on Saturday.

Although the calendar says it's now getting too late to replant to corn, many farmers who've lost crops to flooding say they will replant to soybeans—if the ground dries out in the next couple weeks. Some farmers in southern Iowa say they intend to replant to short season corn hybrids if they can do it in the next week or so.

Northwest Iowa is 'garden spot'

Roger Elmore, Iowa State University Extension agronomist, says crop conditions are best in northwest Iowa. "Farmers have a reasonable crop there," he says. "It's a garden compared to the other parts of the state."

Livestock producers also are struggling because of wet weather. John McGrath, manager of Amana Farms in eastern Iowa, says Iowa River flooding forced them to move 500 cows to higher ground. Last Friday, USDA said farmers in a number of counties in eastern and southeast Iowa whose pastures have been flooded would be allowed to move their livestock temporarily to grassland enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. Landowners who enroll acres in CRP normally are banned from grazing that land.

A lot of growing season left

Ron Litterer, president of the National Corn Growers Association, farms in Floyd County in northeast Iowa. The Cedar River flows through his area. "The Cedar has devastated every city and town from just north of our farm all the way down to Cedar Rapids," he says. "Our crop, although it's under some stress, isn't doing too bad around here. We actually have some pretty decent crops."

Litterer adds, "It's important to remember there's a lot of growing season left. Hopefully, the rest of the 2008 growing season won't be as wet as it was 15 years ago, in the flood of 1993."

He points out that 2008 is a little different than 1993. "Comparing 2008 to 1993 you have to remember 1993 was a year with record rainfall through July and August. This year hopefully our excess rain has come earlier."

Farmers who haven't been hurt directly by flooding this past week say their crops could look a whole lot better in another week or 10 days. "If we can get a week or so of dry, sunny weather, we can get the rest of our nitrogen sidedressed and get the spraying done for weed control," says Litterer. "Remember, there's still good yield potential for many acres in Iowa not impacted by flooding."

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