Lord, get this man out of my house...
He’s home for dinner, again. It’s not that I don’t love him home, but it’s the wrong time of year for him to be home.
Normally by now I would be starting to forget what he looks like in the daylight, but this year he has yet to have a late night. We have exactly zero acres of our crop planted. (With the exception of 1/3 acre of sweet corn.)
So what’s the hold up?
Well, it’s been raining. Every few days for quite a while we’ve been getting rain. The obvious problem with wet ground is that machinery will get stuck and tear up the ground while trying to plant.
The less obvious problem with wet ground is the low quality planting conditions. When seed is planted into cold, wet soils the seed can actually rot right in the ground, and never come up.
Corn seeds will sprout at 52 degrees soil temperature, but we’d prefer closer to 60 degrees. Our temps have been bouncing back to the 40s, which makes it less than ideal planting conditions even if it hadn’t been so wet.
Even if we could have planted, the wet and cold conditions would have likely created an uneven stand. Stand is a farming word used to describe all the plants in the field. A healthy stand is where the plants all emerges from the ground within 24 hours. Uniformity in the crop, or an even stand, is important for management, pollination and harvest.
An uneven stand is harder to manage, more likely to have pollination trouble and more challenging to combine, almost always resulting in lower yields.
OK. So why not just plant late?
A late start means the timing on everything is off.
The spring rains we count on to get things going will be gone. The summer drought we can nearly always count on will hit at a time when our crops need rain the most.
An early frost will be deadly to a late planted crop.
Luckily, seed technology in the last decade has come a long way to help us deal with some of the perils thrown our way. This is even more true when conditions are less than ideal, like this year.
So now what?
We wait. As soon as it dries out enough they will start running and running hard.
Spraying first, followed by corn planting and finally beans will go in.
May 25 is the last day we can plant corn and still have full coverage insurance on it.
So say a prayer for us and all the farm families running behind this year. Pray not only that we get the crop in, but that we can do so safely as the days ahead will bring long hours.
Finally, we have to acknowledge that we are still the lucky ones, as many families who were in the destructive paths of floods will not have any fields at all to plant for 2019.
Check back with us soon - hopefully we will have progress to report.
Kate Lambert grew up in northern Illinois, not on a farm but active in FFA and showing livestock.
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