My topic of early planted soybeans last week almost seems laughable as we look at yet another week of well below average air and soil temperatures. April 3rd's 4-inch soil temperatures in Southeast and Northeast Iowa were 38° and 32° F, respectively. That’s a little over 11° cooler than the 20-year averages of 43.25° F for NE Iowa and 49.2° F for SE Iowa.
Click here to view Iowa soil temperature maps.
Be patient, according to a tweet from Dennis Todey, Director USDA Midwest Climate Hub and Ag Climatologist, Wednesday morning; weather models show warmer air moving into the upper Midwest toward mid-April, but not consistently warm. Dennis can be found on twitter at @dennistodey.
Obviously, this cooler weather will delay field activities and planting this spring. While that isn’t a good thing, it does give us additional time to fine tune planting, tillage and spray equipment. Avoiding breakdowns and repairs during this condensed planting window could be crucial.
One thing we certainly don’t want to do is plant into unfit soils. Please don’t jump the gun on this as soil conditions at planting are extremely important to maximize yields. According to Iowa State University Extension’s Corn Planting Guide, 100% of relative corn yield can be expected from April 20th thru May 5th, while 99% of yield can be expected until May 19th.
To put the planting work load in perspective, we can divide the total acres to plant by the average acres planted per day. Then figure about half the days will be fit to plant. Let’s say a farmer can plant 100 acres/day and has 1000 acres to plant; that’s 10 days of planting. If he starts on April 20th and will only be able to plant every other day, he will be done on May 10th, still within nearly 100% of relative yield.
The late start also gives us the opportunity to finalize or adjust any last-minute seed, fertilizer and/or herbicide plans. Shameless plug: We still have plenty of high yielding NuTech Seed available.
Things can get crazy when under pressure to get the crop in the ground and we can let emotion lead us to make bad decisions or, worse yet, jeopardize safety. Let’s make sure we have everything in place, a backup plan or two, and work efficiently, deliberately and most important safely.