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Spring Field Conditions Remain Favorable

May 5, 2020 - Peter Isaacson, AFM, AAC


April 7th, 2020 - Peas being planted on a Peoples Company managed farm in Warren Co., IA


After a long, wet, drawn out fall, Midwest operators hit the ground running and have wasted no time preparing for, and planting the 2020 crop.

Weather the past two springs has been less than ideal, with 2019 precipitation events resulting in mass flooding, late planted crops, and fields completely prevent planted all together. Couple that with the fall of 2019 where some fields were left standing until late December or even early 2020 due to excessive precipitation, farm operators have put weather considerations at the top of their priority list moving into this spring.

Fortunately, things are moving right along, with some of the best planting and field conditions seen in the upper Midwest for almost four years. Due to the wet fall, many farmers were left with fall fieldwork untouched such as anhydrous ammonia application, tillage, and farm improvement projects. This spring has allowed farmers to get those tasks completed and move onto planting preparations and planting itself.

Iowa: According to the USDA’s Iowa Crop Progress & Conditions report released every Monday beginning April 6th, 2020 and ending November 30th, 2020, planting is clipping right along, and well ahead of the Iowa five-year average to boot.

For the week ending May 3rd, USDA reported 78% of Iowa’s Corn planted, 46% of Iowa’s Soybeans planted, and 94% of Iowa’s Oats planted. That comes out to 46% more Corn planted, 39% more Soybeans, and 14% more Oats when compared to May 3rd of 2019. Districts with the most Corn and Soybeans planted include Northwest, North Central, and Central Iowa.

Additionally, 85% of the State rated subsoil moisture levels as adequate with only 5% of acres reported as having surplus subsoil moisture. In the spring of 2019, only 66% of acres were reported as having adequate subsoil moisture with over 32% of acres reported as having a surplus of subsoil moisture, leaving operators out of the fields, and waiting to get acres planted. Days suitable for fieldwork have also been higher in 2020 when compared to 2019, with approximately 3.3 more days suitable for the week ending May 3rd, 2020. While that number does not seem like a lot, modern farm equipment can cover a large number of acres in a 24-hour period and when applied to the entire state, planting can move quickly.

Delta: Peoples Company land managers also oversee assets in the Delta region of Southeast Arkansas, where conditions are less favorable when compared to the Midwest. Fieldwork and planting are off to a slower start, with frequent rains and saturated soils delaying progress. As of May 3rd, only 68% of Arkansas’s corn crop is in the ground, 20% of soybeans, 48% of rice, 22% of peanuts, and 11% of cotton, all well below five-year averages for planting. Although behind, planting progress for multiple crops jumped 20% from the Arkansas Crop Progress report released April 27th, 2020, with better weather yet to come.

Pacific Northwest: Conditions in the Pacific Northwest remain favorable for fieldwork with warm, dry conditions seen throughout Oregon, Idaho, and Washington. For the week ending May 3rd, 2020, there were over six days suitable for fieldwork between the three states. Topsoil moisture and subsoil moisture levels range from adequate to short, with Washington and Oregon seeing the driest conditions. Planting progress for all crops is nearing complete and well ahead of last year, as well as the five-year average. Planting for most crops in the Pacific Northwest should be wrapping up in the next several weeks, and winter wheat harvest will be only several weeks away.

Farmers have taken a proactive approach to spring field work and knocking out acres as quickly as they can when weather allows. A broad majority of the country has seen favorable spring conditions compared to last year, with the exception of several areas facing excessive moisture. The upper Corn Belt had an early start, and early planting dates can mean later-season corn and soybean varieties that can often equate to more yield at harvest.

Spring fieldwork will continue for several more weeks, and then attention will shift to summer weather and crop progress. As of now, the summer weather outlook looks cooler and favorable for much of the upper Midwest, with adequate rainfall to support the growing crops.


Published in: Land Management