Delayed Planting Workshop

Joel DeJong, field agronomist and specialist with ISU Extension, discusses the loss in yield resulting from late planting on Tuesday in Rock Rapids. The graph he displays shows a stark drop-off in projected yields after reaching a mid-May high point.

ROCK RAPIDS—To plant or not to plant was a question area farmers were searching for guidance on during a Delayed Planting Workshop in Rock Rapids on June 4.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach held the workshop to answer some of the questions that have been giving farmers fits during an especially wet spring. The workshop was held in the basement of Frontier Bank. About 40 people were in attendance.

“About a week ago, Joel (DeJong) and I talked about this meeting,” said Gary Wright, farm business management specialist with Extension. “We put it together knowing or hoping quite frankly that nobody would show up. For those of you that are involved in farming at all, you know if we were out in the field that would be a good thing.”

According to Extension field specialist Joel DeJong, the high levels of precipitation and low levels of sunlight have set growing conditions behind. He said the issue is not purely the amount of rain, but also the frequency at which it comes.

“A day at this time of year is about 15-to-20 growing degree days. That’s the average this time of year,” he said. “We’re about 10 days behind since April 1. Plus we look at sunlight — we’re about right here in Rock Rapids over 10 percent behind in sunlight. So yes, it has been cold and damp and dreary. Unfortunately that’s done our attitudes in at the same time.”

DeJong and crop insurance agent Tom Block of HP Insurance noted that each day that passes this month is crucial in terms of yields and insurance guarantees.

After May 31, crop insurance guarantees decrease by 1 percent per day in Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota. Meanwhile, the peak time for planting to result in the highest yields is typically mid-May. DeJong said a planting date of June 4 projects below 80 percent of an average yield. That projection continues to decrease drastically, dropping to 60 percent by mid-June.

Regardless of projections, the consensus at the workshop was that it is best to stay in contact with your crop insurance agent.

“There’s no right answer for everybody. That’s the difficult part,” Block said. “Just because you hear it in the coffee shop — maybe they’re saying it perfectly right for themselves but it might not be the right answer for you.”

Even Block, also a crop farmer, has pondered the same questions as the rest of the agriculture community.

“It’s funny, after our meeting Friday I thought I had all my decisions made; I’m still going to plant corn,” he said. “Then after Joel talked he makes me think about it again. This week I’m back to planting corn.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast for June, July and August predicts below average temperatures and above average precipitation. If the ground stays moist, crops will be at a higher risk for disease according to DeJong.

“With tariffs and everything else going on there’s a lot of pressures in the ag community right now. Watch your neighbors and your friends,” he said.

“Keep talking to them. One of those first signs is actually people not talking to each other that they’re really suffering some stress. Don’t forget about your neighbors out there.”