Summer-like weather gives farmers head start on planting preps - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Summer-like weather gives farmers head start on planting preps

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BLACK HAWK COUNTY (KWWL) -

The calendar may say mid-March, but it's been feeling much more like summer outside!  And the warmer temperatures are allowing many farmers to get a head start on this year's crop.  But the sunshine, and lack of moisture this winter, could also present some problems.

Farm fields sit quiet across much of eastern Iowa.  But the nice, summer-like weather in this winter season could make that picture change sooner than usual.

"We think we could be out spreading fertilizer in a week.  We could maybe do a little tillage on some of our lighter soils within that period," said Ben Riensche of Blue Diamond Farming Company.

"Basically we're just going to look for leaks....make sure there aren't any loose connectors, things like that," said Nick Rich of Phelps Implement.

Rich is helping Blue Diamond Farm outside Jesup go over its tractors with a fine tooth comb to make sure they're ready to go.

"Actually this is probably the busiest time of year, even busier than fall just because the window for planting crops is a lot smaller than we have for harvest or anything.  We have just as few weeks to get everything done, and it's very, very crucial everything works right," said Rich.

Once the prep work is complete, farmer Ben Riensche will take his tractors out to the yard for a test run. 

While that offers a jump start to the planting season, since it's been dry all winter—Riensche wouldn't mind getting in the fields a bit later, if mother nature offers up some moisture.

"If it rains this weekend, we'll gladly take it!"  said Riensche.

And with some soaking rain this summer, farmers will look to cash in big, as corn continues bringing in near-record prices.

Typically, Iowa farmers do plant corn closer to April 1st.  While they'd love a little rain, it is better to have a drought now in the winter, rather than during the summer when crops need moisture to thrive.

Farmers could run into other problems resulting from the mild weather.  Since there hasn't been a hard freeze, bugs like leaf beetles haven't been killed off, and could end up wreaking havoc on crops.

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