Planting in full swing

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STRATTON TOWNSHIP – Edgar County farmers are going full tilt taking advantage of good weather to plant this year’s corn and soybean crop.

“From April 10 to the end of the month is prime time,” said Steve Webb, Edgar County Farm Bureau president.

Webb was planting corn Wednesday morning on 800th Road in Stratton Township. He started planting Saturday, April 15 and said if the weather cooperates most farmers can finish planting in about 10 days.

“The size of the machinery anymore is such the scale of it just covers a lot of ground,” said Webb.

He was using a 30-row planter and said bigger operations in the county can utilize planters up to 60-rows wide. 

So far, the weather has cooperated in Edgar County. While there was some rain, it didn’t significantly delay work, but just a few miles can make a big difference. Webb said a friend near Ridge Farm got a three-inch rain that is still keeping him out of the fields.

Planting is a priority while the weather holds. Anyone driving rural roads will see lighted farm equipment working in various fields late into the night.

Just as mid to late April is the optimum time for planting corn, the same time frame is also developing as the best period for getting soybeans into the ground. 

“The last few years, early beans have really paid off,” said Webb. 

Until recently, farmers preferred finishing corn before starting on beans, but Webb said bigger operations with more equipment often plant corn and beans fields at the same time. 

He does not anticipate any break in planting. As soon as Webb finishes corn, he will disconnect the corn planter and attach the bean drill to the tractor.

Webb has talked with some farmers who are increasing bean acreage this year hoping to cash in with continued robust soybean trading. Soybean futures closed up Wednesday on the Chicago Board of Trade at $9.50 a bushel, while May corn remained about event at $3.61 a bushel.

Webb alternates corn and bean fields each year instead of planting in anticipation of the market at harvest time.

“I’m not smart enough to outsmart the market,” said Webb. “Also, agronomy-wise it’s better for my farm.”

So far the planting season has gone well. Webb said he has not heard of any serious complications except for the companies that spray chemicals and fertilizers trying to get to everybody since their customers are all working at the same time.

He is pleased with the progress so far and optimistic about the outcome.

“Planting conditions are ideal,” said Webb. “We are setting ourselves up for a pretty good crop, but that will hurt prices.”

He acknowledged it is much too early to anticipate a harvestable crop because farmers gamble with the weather. A cold spell after the seedlings emerge can be detrimental, getting too much or too little rain is equally bad and a hot summer that stresses plants can cut yield. 

“Mother Nature always bats last,” said Webb.