Regional Update: Field Activities Picking up Across the State

April 12, 2023 8:08 AM
Blog Post

And it seems like spring is finally here, and with that field activities are starting to pick-up across the state. ISU Extension and Outreach Field Agronomists share a quick update on what conditions look like and what activities are happening across the state as we start the 2023 growing season.

Northwest Iowa

Leah Ten Napel (Region 1): “Grass is turning green in the ditches and pastures, and most all the snow is gone! The warm weather is helping increase the soil temperatures. Applications of spring anhydrous, dry fertilizer and pre-emerge chemicals have begun. Field conditions remain very dry. Soil moisture samples will be pulled later this week, so keep an eye out for that data! I believe some growers will start planting very soon.”

Gentry Sorenson (Region 2): “Last week applications of dry fertilizer were applied in fields, along with some anhydrous ammonia. Currently fields are drying, with warm weather forecasted I would look for field work to start this week or next week. Many pieces of equipment are being prepped for field operation in yards, with little to no field activity.  Soil conditions are moist under the crust and many are awaiting fields to dry before starting tillage and fieldwork. Monitor weather forecasts later week as there is a possibility of rainfall with overnight lows in the 30’s through the weekend. Learn about concerns with soil temperatures, cold rainfall and cool temperatures with corn and soybeans here.”

North Central Iowa

Angie Rieck-Hinz (Region 3): “It is amazing how fast things seemed to“dry” out the past few days. Many folks I have talked to mentioned they were going to wait until next week to start field activities because they thought it was too wet, but there is now field activity pretty much everywhere. With that being said, it has been obvious the past few days there were some situations where field cultivation was done under less than ideal conditions. Some people are prepping fields now and anticipate planting to start next week, they are simply holding off because of the anticipated colder temperature and forecast for rain (and even snow flurries) this weekend.”

Northeast Iowa

Josh Michel (Region 5): “Over the past two weeks, most of NE Iowa has received anywhere from 0.50 to 1.5 inches of rainfall, with some local heavier amounts of up to two inches in isolated areas. This has done a great job of keeping us off the latest U.S. Drought Monitor. Four-inch soil temperatures over the last few days have continued to hover in low to mid 40’s, but warmer weather forecasted for this week has encouraged many producers to begin field operations in anticipation for ideal planting conditions for rest of this week. With that being said, there’s also some caution as many producers still have a Memorial Day frost event still in their minds from previous years. With adequate soil moisture and warming temperatures, many pastures and alfalfa fields are beginning too slowly green up. Although we had less than ideal snowpack and some very cold temperatures in December and again in February, I haven’t heard of any above average amounts of winter-killed alfalfa. Now is a good time to assess alfalfa stands as fields begin to green up. Recent field calls have centered around cover crop termination, pasture weed identification and management, soil temperatures, planting conditions, planting small grains, corn rootworm management, and soil fertility applications.”

Central Iowa

Meaghan Anderson (Region 7): “Central Iowa is a flurry of activity with the warm temperatures, but everything seems to be happening at once since we so quickly changed over from winter-like conditions to more summer-like conditions. Soil temperatures warmed quickly to average over 50 degrees with the warm air temperatures, but it looks like we've got a cooldown coming again this weekend. Soil conditions are excellent for planting across much of my area, but it appears that subsoil conditions may still be somewhat below what we've seen in prior years; this won't affect us now but may be an issue later in the season if we don't get more rainfall through that soil soon. I won't estimate percent planted, but as of a Tuesday morning drive, I was surprised to see so many fields planted. Most questions in the past week have been on when to plant and what to plant first, finishing up herbicide program plans, seeding new forages, killing sod to plant row crops, and cover crop termination."

East Central, Southeast, and South-Central Iowa

Rebecca Vittetoe (Region 8): “It’s sure refreshing to see things looking green again, especially cover crop fields, pastures, and hay fields. I haven’t had any reports of winter-kill in alfalfa, but now is a good time to check fields for any winter-kill. You can also start to see more winter annual weeds in fields. Since late last week field activities including spring fertilizer applications, burndown and pre-emergence herbicide applications, and even planting have picked-up across EC Iowa. Questions have mainly been on soil temperatures, seeding new forages, cover crop termination, and planting.”

Clarabell Probasco (Region 11): “Soil temperatures in the south-central portion of the state have been slowly but steadily on an uphill climb, reaching up into the mid to upper 40s over the weekend and have now surpassed the 50 degree mark. This nice window of fair weather has allowed for many dry fertilizer applications to be made. Soon-to-be corn fields are beginning to receive anhydrous applications while farmers are prepping equipment to head out to the field and begin the 2023 planting season.”

Check out the map below to find your local ISU Extension field agronomist and find their contact information here!


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...