Mark Licht

Dr. Mark Licht is an associate professor and extension cropping systems specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. His extension, research and teaching program is focused on how to holistically manage Iowa cropping systems to achieve productivity, profitability and environmental goals. Research is centered around varied aspects of soybean, corn and cover crop management as well as agronomic implications of precision technologies.

May 10, 2024 4:30 PM

Planting progress started off strong, but recent rain events across the state have brought it to a screeching halt. It seems like fields get just about fit to get back in them to plant and it rains again. According to the May 6th USDA Crop Progress Report, corn planting was at 47%...

Crop Production
April 11, 2024 1:51 PM

Planting, in my opinion, is THE most important field operation. Planting in the optimal planting window and into good seedbed conditions will set the plant up for rapid growth and high yield potential. With planters beginning to move or sitting in waiting for better...

Crop Production
March 22, 2024 9:52 AM

Alan Parnell is passionate about helping to educate farmers and the public about agricultural research.

The Oklahoma native spent more than 30 years as an ag educator for the Oklahoma State University Extension Service. In February, he accepted a position to lead Iowa State University...

Crop Production, Soils, Soil Fertility, Soil Management
February 15, 2024 8:00 AM

Soybean planting dates have been moving earlier and earlier. In a nod to this, the USDA Risk Management Agency has moved up the earliest planting dates for replant insurance coverage – April 10 for the southern 3 tiers of Iowa counties and April 15 for the northern 6 tiers of Iowa counties. Even...

Crop Production
January 3, 2024 8:00 AM

Corn seed costs continue to go up and with weaker commodity prices there is growing interest in looking at ways to cut costs or simply ensure seeding rates are economically optimized. These efforts open eyes to the possibility of using variable rate seeding to reduce seed costs in low...

Crop Production
November 28, 2023 8:01 AM

The Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) will host their 2024 Annual Meeting and Conference at the Crowne Plaza Indianapolis-Airport on February 13-14, 2024. The MCCC is a collaboration of researchers, extension staff, farmers, agencies, and industry with the mission of facilitating widespread...

Crop Production
November 20, 2023 8:00 AM

Many are considering which corn hybrids to select for the 2024 crop. This also means I start getting questions about whether or not to plant transgenic or conventional hybrids. It is a really important decision to make because selecting the right hybrid, the right genetics is, in my mind, the...

Crop Production
September 14, 2023 1:00 PM

For many parts of Iowa, 2023 is the third consecutive year of drought conditions. This has made establishing cover crops challenging. Drought conditions make overseeding cover crops into standing corn and soybean less successful because of a lack of rainfall to get seeds to germinate. Advice to...

Crop Production
September 12, 2023 9:18 AM

The last couple heat waves combined with continued drought stress has brought on premature corn death. What should be expected as corn grain harvest gets underway? First and foremost expect VARIABILITY of both grain moisture and yield within and between fields. Next plan for variable and...

Crop Production, Grain Handling and Storage
July 7, 2023 9:43 AM

The smoke from the 2023 Canada wildfires was noticeable in Iowa, especially on June 28 and 29, and concerns about impacts on crop productivity were voiced. The smoke from the California wildfires (August 2021) was evident in Iowa too, however, this did not have a negative effect on crop...

Crop Production
April 7, 2023 7:30 AM

When is the best time to plant? Somewhere between April 10 and May 31 for corn and for soybean April 10 (southern Iowa) and April 15 (northern 2/3 of Iowa) to June 15. Those are according to crop insurance dates. By now you know I don’t like talking about planting dates. The calendar date doesn’...

Crop Production
April 4, 2023 3:56 PM

This post is not to explain what corn edge effect is or what is causing the phenomenon but rather throw out a couple thoughts on possible solutions. Briefly, corn edge effect is when yields around the outside...

Crop Production
March 3, 2023 7:49 AM

You are invited to join Science for Success, a national team of soybean extension specialists, for our webinar series on early season soybean management. 

The content will be focused on the new research and materials that we have recently released specifically for US soybean producers....

Crop Production
October 10, 2022 10:15 AM

Corn field edge effect has once again show up in Iowa. It is raising questions about what is causing it. In 2019 and 2020, I was able to conduct some exploratory data collection to learn more about the phenomenon.

What is it? Edge effect in corn is where the outside rows...

Crop Production
October 3, 2022 1:58 PM

Fall is in the air and harvest is starting up across Iowa. It has been noted soybean are holding onto their leaves. This green bean effect is more often thought of as green stems, however, this year there are more leaves and petioles staying green and attached to the main stem. Take note this...

Crop Production
August 26, 2022 7:30 AM

As we enter the time for aerial and broadcast overseeding of cover crops, now is a good time to think about how current weather, soil and crop conditions might affect things. First and foremost, there are parts of the state that are very dry and others that have been getting timely rains....

Crop Production
July 8, 2022 9:59 AM

In the evening hours of July 5, 2022, a derecho moved through South Dakota into northwest Iowa.  Gusts in South Dakota were as high as 99 mph with winds that lasted up to 20 minutes.  The path of the storm’s length was about 600 miles.  A...

Crop Production
May 12, 2022 10:54 AM

The planting is slow in 2022 – according to last Monday’s USDA Crop Progress Report corn planting was at 14% and soybean planting was at 7% complete. This is nearly two weeks behind normal. This week’s warm temperatures have driven up soil temperatures but wet soil conditions are still the...

Crop Production
May 6, 2022 10:34 AM

Corn and soybean planting is progressing very slowly across the state. The starting soil conditions (temperature, water, nitrogen) however are very different from last year. In this blog we’ll benchmark soil conditions using simulated data from...

Crop Production
May 3, 2022 8:30 AM

Over the last couple of weeks there have been numerous reports of both corn and soybean fields being planted. At present, soil temperatures are hovering just below 50oF for most of the state, with the exception of portions of southern corner of Iowa. What should we expect from these...

Crop Production
April 19, 2022 8:00 AM

Yesterday’s crop progress and condition report indicated little to no planting progress for corn or soybean. This is not a bad thing, considering the temperatures the five days. All hope is not lost! Iowa farmers are able to plant an incredible number of acres really fast. Larger planters,...

Crop Production
April 11, 2022 12:30 PM

Soil temperature is one of the most important factors to guide planting decisions. The rule of thumb is to wait until the upper 4 inches reach at least 50 degrees, with a warming temperature trend in the forecast. One way to track soil temperatures across Iowa is by using the...

Crop Production
March 25, 2022 12:33 PM

Why do we need your input?

An unprecedented amount of data is being collected on soybean fields thanks to advances in sensing technologies and cost-efficient computing, yet these data

are rarely used to their full potential. Extension is uniquely positioned to...

Crop Production
February 8, 2022 12:16 PM

Extension specialists at Iowa State and across the U.S. present this new one-hour...

Crop Production
January 24, 2022 11:13 AM

Row spacing for both corn and soybean is an important decision to make for any crop producer and can lead to high yielding crops. Corn row spacing is important to maximize yield as well as to keep balanced with economic output.

Corn row widths continue to decrease as time moves forward....

Crop Production