Farmers anxious to plant corn - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Farmers anxious to plant corn

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DUBUQUE COUNTY (KWWL) -

Only a small fraction of Iowa's corn crop is planted right now, due to a wet, cold spring.

At more than $7.50 per bushel, corn prices are near their all-time high. A bad crop this year could push that demand and that price even higher.

From 2006 to 2010, Iowa, on average, had 48 percent of its corn in the ground by May 1. Even though many farmers this year haven't even started planting, they say it's not too late, as long as mother nature cooperates.

Matt Heitz farms 300 acres of corn in Dubuque County, near Epworth.

"Cold and wet is what does more harm than anything. We need some warm, dry weather to get this crop in the ground," he said. "Right here, on our farm, we've had about five inches of rain in the last two weeks."

Walking through one of his corn fields Sunday afternoon, Heitz knelt down and pulled up the top layer of dirt.

"Right at the moment, what looks real nice on top and fit to go, underneath we tend to be a little bit wet yet, and it needs a little bit more time to dry out," he said.

Farmer Tim Daly, whose fields are just down the road near Bankston, said time to dry is better in the long run.

"The weather just hasn't been good for the corn to germinate. If it were in the ground, it wouldn't be growing anyway, so when the ground gets fit now, this week, get started putting it in the ground and hopefully warms up and we'll have a tremendous crop," Daly said.

Daly farms corn, soybeans and cattle. He is getting ready to plant his soybeans this week. Although the planting is later than average, he said he's not worried - yet.

"It's still plenty early. We're only at the first of May," Daly said. "We won't lose yield on corn until the 10th, the 15th, and soybeans you can plant up to the 20th of May, in my book. It's still plenty good to return 100 percent of your yield."

The soil temperature needs to be at least 50 degrees for the corn seed to germinate.

For Daly, ideal weather for planting seeds is, "60 degree nights. 70, 75 degree days. And dry weather."

"Some years, Mother Nature can be a very difficult business partner," Matt Heitz said.

Both Heitz and Daly said they'll start their planting this week, Mother Nature permitting.

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