There were signs of planting starting up again Tuesday morning throughout Webster County as farmers try to get soybeans into the ground and finish first-cutting of hay while the sun shines.
More rain was forecast by the end of the week, in a spring that has been marked more by idled farm implements than those rolling across fields.
Federal government agencies and private agricultural businesses that work with farmers and their planting say this week will tell how many corn acres may have been switched to soybeans, corn acres that were replanted in ponded areas, acre sown with cover crops or declared prevented planting.
-Messenger photo by Larry Kershner
THIS CORN FIELD south of Thor in Humboldt County is typical of many others in Iowa, with large patches where corn plants drowned due to frequent and excessive rains this spring. Farmers are confronted with decisions to plant late or declare prevented planting. Those who don’t get a crop in the ground are deciding what they’ll have growing on it this season. Agronomists warn against allowing fields to lie idle under weeds and recommends some sort of cover crop.
-Messenger photo by Lary Kershner
BERNADETTE RICKE, of rural Vincent, mows and windrows a 20-acre alfalfa field on June 16. She said she is about three weeks behind on getting the first cutting finished, but added sh thinks the quality of the hay “looks pretty good.”
Mark Passow, Farm Bureau insurance agent in Fort Dodge, said there is no crystal ball to use to foretell the decisions farmers will be making.
Many of his clients, he said, "have called to discuss their options. There are some herbicide programs that won't allow planting soybeans if it's already been applied."
But little will be known until acres have been certified with Farm Service Agency offices during the next few weeks, he said.
Carolyn Leners, executive director for the Webster County FSA office, said FSA has waived the June 15 prevented planting reporting deadline for corn, but that the USDA's Risk Management Agency's deadline of June 30 still applies.
Leners said there have been some reports of prevented corn acres com to her office, but no reports of prevented soybean acres.
"They're planting today," she said. "And those that are done are helping those who aren't done."
Leners said her office has been directing farmers to discuss their options with crop insurance agents before making any late-season crop decisions.
They've also been directed to Natural Resource and Conservation Service offices to discuss cover crop options.
In its weekly crop update on Monday, the Iowa office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Agricultural Statistics Service said first cutting of hay lags well behind last year and the five-year average with 31 percent complete as of June 16.
Normally, first cutting was 100 percent complete, with 27 percent of the second cutting accomplished by now.
Bernadette Ricke, of rural Vincent, was cutting her first hay crop on June 16.
A beef cattle feeder, Ricke said she's usually done with first cutting by Memorial Day.
She said the first cutting is generally chopped for haylage for the cattle and final cuts for the season will be baled.
She said her operation's planting isn't quite done, but is close.
"We just nine rows short of finishing soybeans,"?she said. "We just hope it stays dry enough so we can get some spraying done."