Regional Update: Big Strides in Planting Progress and Early Planted Crops Starting to Emerge

May 9, 2023 2:15 PM
Blog Post

Farmers were able to get back in the fields last week across the state and made great strides in planting. Across the state, 70% of the expected corn crop has been planted and just shy of 50% of the expect soybean crop has been planted according to the May 7 USDA NASS Crop Progress & Condition Report. ISU Extension and Outreach Field Agronomists share what they are hearing and seeing with planting progress, pest issues, and crop emergence in their respective regions across the state.

Northwest Iowa

Leah Ten Napel (Region 1): “Lots of planting progress was made across NW Iowa last week. Many growers I have talked to are over halfway done with their planting. We received a good amount of moisture over the weekend that was very welcomed as we are still behind on soil moisture. Adequate moisture and warm soil temperatures should help those recently planted seeds emerge more quickly and evenly. If the forecasted rains delay herbicide applications growers may need to change herbicide plans to chemicals that are safe for application post-emergence!”

Gentry Sorenson (Region 2) “Rapid planting progress was made last week with warmer weather and good soil conditions.  Per the May 7 USDA NASS Crop Progress & Condition Report, 78% of corn and 43% of the soybeans are planted in NW Iowa.  Early planted corn has been slow to emerge due to cool soil conditions shortly after planting. A good reference for finding GDDs can be found through the Iowa Environmental Mesonet. My region experienced some light rainfall from May 6 - 9, with pea sized to marble sized hail reported in Kossuth County on May 8. Forecasts for the next five days include chances for rain so planting progress may be slowed. Phone calls in the last week were about early season stand assessments along with questions about cool soil conditions and the slow progress of early plantings.”

North Central Iowa

Angie Rieck-Hinz (Region 3): “We made significant planting progress in NC Iowa the week of May 1-7.  Some folks are done planting and some just started last week and managed to finish planting corn before rain moved in on Friday. Corn planted the week of April 10 has finally emerged, but emergence in some fields has been really uneven. I would suggest doing stand counts to make any replant decisions, but even if you choose not to replant (corn replant checklist), knowing what that stand is, may reduce surprises at harvest time if the population is lower than you were expecting.  Stand counts can tell you how conditions may have influenced germination and emergence. I know there were some early planted beans, but I have not seen any emerged soybeans. Growth of pastures, forages and cover crops all seems to be delayed in NC Iowa, most likely due to our cooler temperatures this spring, but also because we have been relatively dry. The recent precipitation and heat forecasted for this week should help. Now that we have emerged crops, please feel free to share with me any hail/wind reports you may have.”

Northeast Iowa

Terry Basol (Region 4): “The past couple of weeks have provided great planting conditions for the farmers here in NEIowa. Many growers are either finished up with corn planting or can see the light at the end of the tunnel. According to the May 7 USDA NASS Crop Progress & Condition Report, 72% and 62% of the corn has been in NC and EW Iowa, respectively. Soybean planting is also well on the way with around 50% of the acres planted for the area. As far as precipitation, we did see some rainfall over the weekend for the area, with lower amounts in the northern half (about 0.25 inch) and higher rainfall amounts (up to 1.5 inches) in the southern half of the territory, which also came with some hail. According to the Iowa Mesonet, the NE IA Research and Demonstration Farm here at Nashua has received 0.64 inch of rain for the period of April 24 through May 8. For those that have early planted corn fields, this is the time to start scouting and assessing emergence and conducting stand counts. Also keep in mind that the development of  black cutworm is a little bit ahead this year which coincides well with the planting window for this season.

Josh Michel (Region 5): “Dry weather and fit soils allowed planters to continue rolling throughout most of NE Iowa last week. Light rain showers delivered up to 0.25 inch of precipitation to parts of the region during the last weekend in April. We then had a good stretch of 4 to 5 days of nice dry weather. Severe storms over this past weekend again delivered some needed rainfall; from only 0.10 along the Minnesota border up to 1 inch along Hwy 20. Soil temperatures remained in the upper 40’s until early last week, but have since stayed in the mid to upper 50’s and are predicted to hover around 60 degrees for the rest of the week. With the cooler than normal conditions, seed emergence has been slow but the first early planted fields are just starting to finally spike through. As we begin to accumulate some Growing Degree Days, I’d expect more earlier-planted fields to begin emerging over the next few days. As mentioned, planting progress has significantly increased over the past week. I’d estimate that around 70-80% of the corn has been planted, while soybeans are around 50-60%. Over 90% percent of the oats have been planted, and around 30% have already started emerging. Pastures and alfalfa fields continue to slowly green up, but recent rainfall and warming temperatures should help them take off pretty quickly now. The ISU Mesonet Pest Forecasting Map says that alfalfa weevil egg hatch should be occurring in northern Iowa. Other field calls and questions I’ve received over the past week have centered around cover crop termination, herbicide applications, corn rootworm management, alfalfa stand assessments, and pasture weed identification and management.”

Sweep net with alfalfa weevil larvae and some aphids.
Alfalfa weevil larave (yellow circle) are already active in southern Iowa, but we should expect to see alfalfa weevil egg hatch happening now in Northern Iowa. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Vittetoe. 

Central Iowa

Meaghan Anderson (Region 7): “Widespread rainfall over the weekend brought much-needed moisture to many crop fields, but some areas received unwelcome hail as well. While most crops were not emerged, concern does exist for any emerged soybeans and alfalfa (especially seedlings). Corn and soybean planting made substantial progress last week in the beautiful weather, but some planters got ahead of the sprayers due to the condensed schedule for spraying between wind and rain. I’ve noticed a big uptick in annual weed emergence over the last week, including foxtails, morningglories, and velvetleaf; if your preemergence herbicide application will be delayed, scout fields prior to application to decide whether your herbicide plan needs to change. I’ve gotten a chance to check out some emerged corn that was planted right after Easter and most looks to be in great shape. Once the crop emerges, it is time to start scouting! Alfalfa, pastures, and cover crops have been off to a sluggish start this spring between the dry conditions and cool temperatures, but the rain and heat has greened things up a lot. Phone calls in the last week were about cover crop termination, herbicide programs, weed identification, to plant or not to plant, and numerous garden/landscape questions.”

Velvetleaf seedlings emerged in a corn field with brown soil in the background.
Numerous velvetleaf seedlings emerging in a central Iowa corn field on May 4, 2023. Photo courtesy of Meaghan Anderson.

East Central, Southeast, and South-Central Iowa

Rebecca Vittetoe (Region 8): “Field activity picked back up again early last week and planters rolled hard all week. I estimate that 75-85% of the corn has been planted and 60-75% of the soybeans have been planted in my area. The early planted corn and soybeans have emerged. Take some time to do stand assessments and evaluate what your stands look like. The early planted corn fields I’ve looked at so far have had variable and uneven stands. As you do stand assessments, now is also the time to start scouting for black cutworm feeding or cutting based on our estimated predicated cutting dates. Over the weekend we did receive some rain, with totals ranging from 0.25 to 3 inches in areas. If you got rained out before you were able to get your pre-herbicide on, especially for soybeans, double check the label to make sure they are safe to apply. Also, unfortunately with that rain also came some strong winds and hail.  Pastures and forages have finally started to take off with the recent rain and warmer temperatures. Don’t forget to check your alfalfa for alfalfa weevils, I’ve seen some alfalfa weevil larvae activity.”

April 10 planted corn in Keokuk County on May 1, 2023. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Vittetoe. 

Clarabell Probasco (Region 11): “The south-central portion of the state finally began to pull out of the cooler temperatures and back into warmer days. This temperature swing helped early planted corn and soybean fields to finally start emerging. Some fields have experienced some slight crusting issues with rain events that occurred during the cooler spell. Most crops have been able to handle the early season stress but it is important to stay out in those fields and watch the emerging crops so we can be aware of any early season issues that may need to be addressed whether that be pest, herbicide, or germination related. The past weekend much of the area received anywhere from 0.5 to 1.5 inches of rainfall. The USDA Crop Progress Report shows that about 75% of the corn crop is planted and around 40% of soybeans are in the ground. Pastures and hay fields have greened up very nicely and can hopefully see some good growth with the upcoming warm temperatures.”

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Rebecca Vittetoe Field Agronomist in EC Iowa

Rebecca Vittetoe is an extension field agronomist in east central Iowa. Educational programs are available for farmers, agribusiness, pesticide applicators, and certified crop advisors.

Areas of expertise include agronomy, field crop production and management of corn, soybeans, and...