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Iowa farmers eager to roll planters as sunshine, temperatures beckon

George C. Ford, CR Gazette –

With the sunshine and temperatures seeming more like May than the first week of April, Iowa farmers are anxious to start planting their 2012 crop of corn or soybeans.

That may have to wait, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, which on Monday reminded producers that April 11 is the earliest allowable planting date in Iowa for full crop insurance coverage.

(PHOTO: Farmland just outside Mason City, Iowa on April 3, 2012.)

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said there have been rumors of early corn and soybean planting, but most field work has involved anhydrous and dry fertilizer application. Northey said manure hauling and some tillage also are starting to take place.

There were 4.7 days suitable for fieldwork during the past week. Topsoil moisture was rated 8 percent very short, 28 percent short, 60 percent adequate, and 4 percent surplus, while subsoil moisture was rated 17 percent very short, 32 percent short, 49 percent adequate, and 2 percent surplus.

In east central Iowa, there were 4.6 days suitable for getting field work done in the week that ended Sunday. Topsoil moisture was rated 4 percent very short, 10 percent short, 84 percent adequate and 2 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture was rated 7 percent very short, 12 percent short, 80 percent adequate and 1 percent surplus..

The northwest portion of Iowa remains the driest with 18 percent very short, 44 percent short, 38 percent adequate and no surplus. Subsoil moisture is rated 43 percent very short, 37 percent short, 20 percent adequate and no surplus.

Fifty-eight percent of Iowa’s oat crop has been planted, well beyond last year’s 4 percent and the five-year average of 7 percent. It marks the first time since 1981 that Iowa farmers have planted more than half of their oat crop by the beginning of April.

Warmer than normal weather conditions have provided cattle with the opportunity to give birth on green pastures rather than dry lots throughout Iowa. Pasture and range condition was rated 1 percent very poor, 5 percent poor, 27 percent fair, 49 percent good, and 18 percent excellent.

Soil temperatures on Monday ranged from 49 degrees in Allamakee County to 64 degrees in Harrison County, according to Iowa State University Extension Service.

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