DEWITT — Clinton County farmers’ race against May 25 is over.
That is the date when the corn seed needs to be in the ground in order to fully develop into a bin-busting harvest.
Planting that seed was delayed this year by frequent rains and cold soil temperatures. Even after the tractors and planters began to roll, there was concern that the plants would develop abnormalities — corkscrew or swelling and then failing to germinate — because of shifting soil temperatures.
Now ISU field agronomist Virgil Schmitt reports that most of the early planted corn appears to be emerging well, “but I am hearing scattered reports of stands that are less than hoped for.
“And although farmers made tremendous planting progress last week, there still is some corn to be planted. As a general rule, if planting is delayed beyond May 25, the farmer should select a hybrid that matures five days earlier than an adapted full season hybrid for the area.”
However, seed corn salesman Art Hofer reported none of his customers had changed to the earlier maturing hybrids.
DeWitt-area farmer Joe Dierickx said he finished planting corn and soybeans May 24.
“Some of the corn that was planted before the cold rain has shown poor emergence and a decreased stand. I did replant of couple of wet holes, which amounted to about 3 acres, so that was minimal damage.
“We are all tired and are enjoying the rain and rest. It will be nice if it keeps raining every so often.”
And that’s what it did over the weekend— in spots. Official area weather observer Jim Blaess reported this week that there was no new rain in Camanche, where he has his station. But Dierickx said there was 3/10ths of rain in his gauge and Dustin Johnson, up in the northeast corner of the county, said his area received 7/10ths of an inch.
“We are done planting,” Johnson said, “and most of the fields have emerged. There was some stand reduction from the cold weather, but nothing drastic.
“Development has been slow and could cause pollination problems later on.”
For areas of the county where there was flooding, Schmitt said corn and soybeans can normally only survive complete submersion for two to three days. Plants not totally submerged will survive considerably longer, he said.
“Now we will be scouting for black cutworms” Hofer said.
According to Schmitt, black cutworms do not over-winter in Iowa. Rather, moths fly in from the south and lay eggs which hatch into hungry worms.
“There have been a few significant moth flights, but that does not mean there will be much cutting,” Schmitt said. “There is a network of black cutworm moth traps across the state, and with knowledge of when they occur, and by using daily growing degree temperatures we can predict fairly closely when cutting may begin, if indeed it does.”
Some low-lying fields have had new depositions of soil on top of planted ground, Schmitt said.
“Corn and soybeans that had emerged will be lost. Corn and soybeans that had not yet emerged can still come up from greater depths, especially corn.
“The limit from which corn can emerge is depths of four to five inches. The soybean, because the plant must push the seed up to the surface, is less capable of emerging from greater depths.”