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Weather Woes for Siouxland Farmers this Planting Season

Siouxland Public Media

Dismal weather conditions with heavy rain and cooler days prevented many Siouxland farmers from finishing their planting this season. 

Siouxland Public Media reports it’s a critical time for producers to get into the fields.

“It’s 22.5 acres and about 5 areas under water.”

Mark Held stands by his farmland two miles south of Hinton, along Highway 75 in Plymouth County, Iowa.

Credit Siouxland Public Media
Farmer Mark Held

You can’t miss it.  Instead of dry land it looks like water-front property. 

“We have one field south of Hinton here.  We call it the pond.” 

A body of water knee deep in some spots.

Credit Siouxland Public Media
Flooded Field Near Hinton, IA - May 30, 2019

“I live just along the Floyd River.  And, that flooded in September.  That washed all of the bean crop away.   You couldn’t harvest the beans.  It took forever to get your corn out.” 

The corn and soybeans still submerged.  The standing water never let up with a wet Spring and flooding again in March.     

Credit Siouxland Public Media
Flooded Field Near Hinton, IA - May 30, 2019

“Mother nature is kind of acting hard on us know.”

Held farms 800 areas, spanning to the outskirts of nearby Sioux City.

“A majority of it is pasture.  There’s corn, beans, and oats and alfalfa. “

And, Held still needs to get his crops in the ground.

“I have 40 areas of corn to do yet and about 150 areas of beans to put in.  And, it’s just kind of a headache.”

“This time of year, we should be done.  We’re done.  The big farmers that maybe have a couple thousand areas they are still just finishing up with their beans, even those guys are struggling.  They maybe have 50% of their done with their soybeans.  There are a few farmers in the area that are done but they are the smaller farmers that only had a couple of areas to do.  It’s just part of the game Mother Nature isn’t cooperating this year. “

Credit Siouxland Public Media
Flooded Field Near Hinton, IA - May 30, 2019

Held isn’t alone, others in the area lag behind in their Spring planting.

“Weather conditions seems to be a little bleak for farmers right now,” said Joel DeJong.   

Joel DeJong is an agronomist with Iowa State University Extension.  He oversees nine counties in northwest Iowa.

Credit Iowa State University Extension
ISU Extension Agronomist Joel DeJong

“Well, in a normal time period we average about four to five days in the week in the field getting field work done in the late part of April and in May even closer to five days a week. 

“We have been averaging about one day a week since early April.  It’s been tough getting a lot of that work done.”

DeJong says the most recent crop report shows the region with 60% of corn in the ground and about a third of soybeans.

“The state of Iowa is actually reported about 76% on the corn side.  About three-quarters of the corn is wonderful.  But, that’s about two weeks of what we would have done at this stage of the game.”  When we get to the end of May we are usually at about 99% so we are lagging significantly in those areas.” 

“The timeframe window for corn is rapidly closing.  It will frost too soon and corn won’t adapt.  The soybeans we can still plant into June.  We’ll have to take a little yield loss but we can still get some yield out of it as we head into June.”

“We run really hard into a wall if we’re planting after the 10th of June we are running into a high change that chance that frost will occur before the corn mature.  Change over to soybean.  Farmers would rather plant a crop then rely on insurance.”

Farmers also face stress over crop insurance requirements.

The deadline for many to plant corn came at the end of the month.

“After May 31st there are some late planting discounts you could say.  If It was June 5th before you get planted you will only get 95% coverage but still pay the same premium because of that late planting date.  There is a 25-day window then the coverage drops dramatically after that.”  

The deadline for soybeans is June 15th.

REPORTER: “Have you ever seen it this bad before when it comes to conditions? 

“I have been working for ISU Extension for 37 plus years so far.  I have been around for a little while.  I honestly have remembered a few years where we were really wet in the spring but not as widespread as we are seeing across the Midwest.”

“If you get into the northwest corner in the Loess soils typically they are well drained even in really wet spring we can usually see opportunities where we can get planted in most of those acres.  Even though areas have struggled because we can’t seem to get more than 2-3 days together where it’s not raining.  It takes that many days so it can be dry enough to get into the field.”

“Northwest Iowa is fortunate we are at 76% percent planted in corn.  Nebraska 81%, South Dakota 25 %, Illinois 35%, Ohio 22%, Indiana 22%, Michigan 33%, Wisconsin 46%.  It’s behind normal in a lot of the corn belt states this year.”

REPORTER:  “How long have you farmed?  And, do you plan to stay in farming if things continue this way?” 

“You really want to get my age.  I’m going to turn 65 in July and I plan on retiring next year.   Because all I have ever done is farm.  It’s not fun anymore.  It costs so much to do it for what you get out of it to make a little bit of money.” 

“I’m my own boss I can do what I want.  I don’t anything else to do.. it’s the only thing I have ever done with my life.”

Mark Held also plans to fight nature, by embracing nature.    

Credit Siouxland Public Media
Mark Held Overlooks Farm Field Near Hinton, IA - May 30, 2019

“I’m trying to get it into the wetlands CRP program so I don’t have to farm it again.  I can’t even get into the gate to get the CRP in.  It has to be in by the end of June.”

And, Held also hopes for a stretch of warmer, dry weather.

“It’s balls to the wall, you have to get it done while the sun is shining.  It will eventually work out.”

“The ideal conditions to get people back in the fields.  A significant number of days without rainfall number one.  Number two above average or average temperature would really help, sunshine.  It seems our solar radiation has been significantly reduced,  down below normal and a little breeze doesn’t hurt either,” said DeJong.

Sheila Brummer returns to her radio roots as a Reporter/Special Projects Producer for Siouxland Public Media KWIT-KOJI.