Robb Ewoldt soybean replant

Robb Ewoldt and his son, Alex, come over a hill in a soybean field. The Blue Grass, Iowa, farmer was forced to replant the field in mid-June after a tough start to the season. 

DURANT, Iowa — On June 11, Robb Ewoldt and his son, Alex, were in the cab of a tractor doing a job they were hoping to avoid: Replanting.

The Blue Grass, Iowa, area farmer got his first beans in the ground around April 26, then a month of rains came.

“Those beans, we knew they laid in the ground for 30 days before it got decent,” he said. “We knew they were a lost cause. But some of these others we thought they were in decent shape, but they just didn’t have enough to get through the ground.”

He said when he went to inspect the bean seedlings, the soil was extremely tight with little to no oxygen.

“This is not the start we were looking for,” Ewoldt said.

Many farmers across the state are now going through replants. Iowa State University Extension cropping systems specialist Mark Licht said it’s been a unique season due to the delays across much of Iowa.

“In some respects, because of late planting, we’ve already been kind of thinking through how late we can plant and decisions we need to be making,” he said.

“They are having to think through if it makes sense to replant still. Is it an economically viable option?”

Farmers will also have to be prepared to adjust their timeframe within certain fields. Crops in soggy fields will mature at different rates, and Licht said the issue could bring on higher moisture levels at harvest.

Come fall, an option for farmers is to plan on harvesting around the crop that isn’t ready, then taking another pass at the field later on. But Licht said the time required and cost of fuel and other inputs are worth keeping in mind as farmers weigh their options now.

When surveying his field, Ewoldt couldn’t help but think back to last year. He said his wife took a picture that showed the corn knee- to thigh-high on June 7, 2018. This year, the fields look like they are just getting started.

Ewoldt’s June-planted corn picked up some luck with field conditions and weather and is showing good stands so far, popping up in only four to five days. However, the wet fields are causing other problems.

Loss of nitrogen has been prevalent across Iowa due to the heavy rains.

“We’ve had some interesting talks with my sprayer retailer about how we are going to handle this,” Ewoldt said. “I think we are more concerned about the nitrogen in our corn. We’ve had so much rain. How much is there? We are going to have to readdress our yield goals, but we don’t know.”

Licht said if there was more than 15 inches of rain after the application, there should be concerns about how much N is left over.

“Once it’s lost, it’s lost,” Licht said. “As far as what you can do about it, if you realize you are in a situation where you’ve lost a considerable amount of nitrogen, you could come in and do a side-dress application or put some over the top some way to offset some of those losses. The key is to be able to do it and do it in a timely fashion.”

He suggested applying around the V8 or V10 stages, which may be occurring shortly.

Ewoldt said this has been a trying way to start the year as farmers look for more sun to jump start growth — with hopes the rains now don’t turn off too quickly.

“Not that I’ve been farming a really, really long time, but I’ve never seen it like this,” he said. “Right now we are going through a stretch my parents went through in the ’80s, with some weather events and some crappy prices. This is our generation’s time to deal with it.”