Rain puts a damper on spring planting

Many Illinois farmers are still waiting for dry enough fields to begin planting due to extended rain across the state recently.

Corn and soybean farmer Joe Zumwalt of Warsaw in Western Illinois, who farms in the river bottoms of the Mississippi River, estimated that he has had approximately 4 to 6 inches of rain in the last several weeks.

“The river bottoms are pretty sandy, so we’re able to get in a lot quicker than other places,” Zumwalt said. “The bluff ground has been really wet, and it’s really just been able to get started working in that ground in the last two-three days.”

Zumwalt emphasized that his situation is unusual because most farmers in the state have been delayed.

“It has definitely stalled out planting, not to a point where I’d say it’s late for them yet, but it’s on the doorstep of putting them late,” Zumwalt said.

The Illinois State Water Survey showed that from just April 1 to 12, parts of Illinois received up to 3 inches of rain, with more rain expected in the next several days.

According to Zumwalt, the weather has been slightly unusual because there is normally a break between rains in the spring, but this season it has rained fairly consistently.

He noted that it’s not concerning yet, but if the rain continues like it did in the northern part of the state this week, farmers could face problems.

“The economy and agriculture is pretty tight right now.” Zumwalt said. “All producers are trying to raise as many bushels as possible right now because our market prices are not attractive [and] are barely breaking even.”

Corn planting season typically starts around April 5 to 10, according to Zumwalt. He said the optimal window for corn planting starts to close around May 15 to 20.

The weather woes have stacked up against Illinois farmers. A mild winter has led to some additional challenges.

“If you remember back to February how warm we were – trees were starting to bud and fields were starting to turn green back in the end of February, and then we got all the rain to feed it, so the weed issue is going to be a problem,” Zumwalt said.

While the rain has proven challenging this planting season, Zumwalt said an average of 3 to 4 inches of rain a month once planting has taken place is a healthy amount of moisture. Until then, most farmers across Illinois are watching the skies, ready to plant as soon as possible.

–Illinois News Network

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