Iowa farmers prep for planting, hope for normal weather - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa farmers prep for planting, hope for normal weather

Most farmers aren't ready to plant quite yet Most farmers aren't ready to plant quite yet

It's a sure sign of spring: Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey released his first Crop and Weather Report of the year, which comes out weekly April through October.

In it, Northey said much of the state remains quite dry and he hopes the rain in this week's forecast will materialize, as it did Tuesday for much of eastern Iowa.

While last year at this time some farmers were already fertilizing their fields, there's no rush yet this spring to get corn and soybeans in the ground.

The buzzword this spring is "normal," entirely unlike last year's unseasonably warm, early spring temperatures.

Northey said a lot of Iowa farmers are now prepping machinery for the upcoming planting season, which is what farmer Gary Lahr was doing Tuesday afternoon.

Lahr farms 600 acres of corn and 200 acres of soybeans in Dubuque and Delaware counties. He was in his shop Tuesday afternoon, equipping his planter with GPS.

"We can hook it up to the tractor one of these first days here when it's decent outside and do some test running with it and get everything set," he said, working on the machine.

He and other farmers aren't in a rush to plant, Lahr said. They're right on a normal schedule.

"For normal planting, unless you're planting a whole lot of acres, a lot of people start right at the end of April, that first week in May," Lahr said. "A lot of crops go into the ground then."

He said he saw Tuesday's rain soak right into the ground, which is good.

"Can't get much better than that," he said.

Farmers hope the moisture keeps up.

"This year so far I'd say we're in a pretty normal trend," Lahr said. "It's sure good to see weather systems come across the country instead of just pop up someplace, so maybe we might be getting back into some normal weather."

The next step for a lot of farmers is getting anhydrous ammonia fertilizer on the ground, which requires some drier conditions than Tuesday brought.

"We're not being pushed by any means yet, but it'd be comfortable to get the fertilization down," Lahr said.

Northey said farmers are willing to wait another week or two to plant if it means getting better soil moisture levels.

Some farmers have done some fieldwork already this year. Northey said fieldwork last week was more prevalent in southern Iowa, where some farmers got to till and apply fertilizer.

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