JANESVILLE, Wis. - Many local farmers are anxiously waiting to plant corn after the frequent rain and cool nights have made for less than ideal planting conditions.
“If you looked in the fields in the area, you’ll notice not many tractors are going,” Nick Baker, agriculture agent for University of Wisconsin Extension – Rock County, said. “Not much is happening, and a lot of this is just because of the weather we’ve had.”
Baker said most area farmers start planting corn at the end of April or beginning of May. In order to start planting, he said the top 2 inches of soil need to be at least 50 degrees.
“There’s really nothing we can do,” Baker said. “The weather is the one factor we have no control over, so whenever the sun shines and the warm weather comes, everyone will be happy, including farmers.”
Nick Venable, owner of Venable Farms Inc., wanted to start planting corn seed Saturday, but an overnight rain shower put a damper on his plans.
“You have all winter to gear up and get equipment ready, and we’re still doing a little bit of that, but everything’s ready to go,” Venable said. “It’s just a waiting game right now.”
Venable said he already planted 60 acres of corn early, but he still has 1,300 more acres of corn and 260 acres of soybeans to plant.
“On a good day, I can get 400 acres planted in a day,” he said. “So once we get going and once soil temps are right and moisture’s right, we’ll be able to get corn done in three to four days and one day of beans, but it’s just the struggle of staying patient until things are right.”
Venable said the corn he planted early has already sprouted and is staying dormant now until the soil temperature warms up.
Baker said there’s no reason for farmers to panic yet, but if the cool, wet weather continues, it might become a problem.
“Everything’s not lost yet, but if we can’t plant in the next week or two, it’s really going to start changing people’s farming practices this year,” he said.
Venable said he’d start getting worried if he hasn’t planted his corn by May 15.
“That to me is kind of a panic date,” he said. “And then we have to start deciding, are we going to switch from corn to beans?”
Baker said, even if the weather stays dry for planting, the wet fields might still cause problems for farmers.
“Some fields have little water pockets and water holes that we don’t normally see,” he said. “If those don’t dry up, we may have areas of fields that just can’t be planted this year because of the weather we’re having.”
Both Baker and Venable hope the forecast stays warm and dry so they can start planting next week.
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