Wet field conditions

Crops grow in a Howard County field. Farmers and agronomists say wet conditions have provided challenges for planting and getting good stands. 

Another spring has brought another year of challenges getting the crop planted. While flooding has not been as widespread as the historic levels of 2019, some fields have been under water, and farmers have had to take advantage of relatively brief windows to get crops planted between rains.

After last year’s flooding, some levees are still damaged or still freshly repaired. Mitchell Rice, who farms in Chariton and Randolph counties, says there has been some flooding in his area.

“We are dealing with flooding in the Dalton and Brunswick river bottoms due to levees in disrepair,” he says. “Corn is looking tough from too much cool weather, and there are drowned out wet spots.”

Dhruba Dhakal, a University of Missouri Extension agronomist based in Audrain County serving several counties in the area, says May was generally cooler than normal, although temperatures warmed up at the end of the month and in early June, helping crops grow and drying out wet fields.

“For corn, it was cold and wet for the most part of May,” he says. “It has now improved. It’s been warmer and we’ve had less rain.”

Dhakal says corn in his area is mostly planted, although soybean planting is still in the early stages due to wet conditions during much of planting season. However, speaking on June 2, he says improving weather should mean some busy planting days.

“The warmup, and less rain, I think should help get more field work done,” Dhakal says.

For the crops that are up, the stands have some variety.

“In some fields, particularly in the river bottoms, the stands are not so good,” he says. “Some corn in the upland areas is in the V4 or V5 stage. The corn there looks very good. Some corn is yellow color that might be due to cold, wet soil (earlier in the spring) or nitrogen deficiency in the early stages of the corn.”

While there have been planting delays, farmers seem to be making the most of the planting windows they get, Dhakal says.

“Upper 80s, low 90s is the forecast for this week,” he says. “That will help dry out the soils and allow for fieldwork.”

According to the USDA’s Missouri Crop Progress and Condition report dated June 1, Missouri’s corn crop is 92% planted, compared to 68% at the same point last year and 90% for the five-year average. Corn emerged was at 85%, compared to 57% at the same time last year and 84% for the five-year average.

Also according to the report, Missouri’s soybean crop was 49% planted, far ahead of the 16% at this point last year, when floods and wet conditions substantially delayed planting.

The planting progress was in line with the five year average for this point, also 49%, although the last five years overall have been fairly wet springs with planting delays.

Soybeans emerged were at 30%, just behind the five-year average of 34% and ahead of last year’s 11% emerged at the same point.

Ben Herrold is Missouri field editor, writing for Missouri Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.