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Daily Journal
     April 20, 2022      #68-110 KDJ
 
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Last year’s corn stalks remain untouched in a rural Iroquois County field Monday as storms passed through the area. Frequent precipitation and cold temperatures over the past month have kept local farmers from digging in to planting season.

Daily Journal/Tiffany Blanchette

Farmers waiting for warmth 

By Lee Provost
lprovost@daily-journal.com


Momence area farmer Paula Karlock paused for a moment as she was fueling a tractor. She looked into her stored data in her iPhone. With a few swipes she found the information she was seeking.

On April 16, 2021, she and her husband, Joe, planted 67 acres of soybeans.

Fast forward one year later and there were snow flakes tumbling onto area farm fields. While the late Sunday and early Monday snow would certainly not be considered any kind of major snow event for early spring, it was, without question, winter weather.

It is not the weather sought when looking to plant corn and soybeans.

The cold temperatures, as well as the abundant moisture, has made planting corn and soybeans something farmers are only talking about, rather than actually putting the seed into the earth.

The previous spring certainly has no bearing on what the present spring will offer.

And spring 2022 is starting off by giving the agriculture community the cold — and wet — shoulder.

“Last spring was pretty good. Mild temperatures. The soil worked up perfectly. We had the best beans we ever raised,” she said.

This year, at least the initial portion of the spring planting season, has been a much different story. There is still much time to get the seed into the ground.

No one is panicking. Not yet.

“We would all like to be planting, but the weather is not cooperating,” she said.

Warm weather will arrive. In fact, it appears to be just around the corner. Later this week, temperatures are expected to reach the low 70s and Saturday is slated to reach a balmy 81.

It appears Saturday will be only a tease as temperatures are anticipated to drop back into the mid 50s in the early portion of next week.

The heat is needed as the soil is cold and seed placed in cold ground simply lays there.

Chad Miller, Kankakee County Farm Bureau director, said soybeans need ground temperatures to be at least 54 degrees to begin germination. Corn needs temperatures of at least 50 degrees.

Currently, soil temperatures are in the mid-40s.

“No one is in panic mode yet, but farmers are on the edge of their seats. With these recent rains, we may need three to four days of warm, sunny weather,” he noted, to dry out fields in order to get the soil in its proper condition.

Miller noted farm ground gets just about ready to be worked and then rain makes an unwanted appearance.

“But nothing can be done about Mother Nature. We just have to roll with it,” he said.

Following an extremely difficult second half of the 2021 harvest season, farmers were hoping for a little more cooperation from the weather.

“When the fields get fit, most will need a good two- to three-week stretch and the majority of the crops will be planted,” Miller said.

Miller is quick to note the importance of agriculture is to the Kankakee County economy. He said agriculture comprises 17% of the local economy.

And while corn and soybean per-bushel prices remain extremely strong, Karlock is quick to not that prices for fuel, fertilizer and herbicide also are near historic levels.

She noted industry experts have been forecasting that prices for 2023 planting products are not anticipated to decline.

But 2023 is far off in the distance. Karlock is focused on 2022 and she’s eager to get the seeds out of the bag and into the dirt.

“The Lord always provides. But when the calendar turns to springtime, you want to get rolling.”

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Farm equipment awaits the start of planting season in Iroquois County on Monday as storms passed through the area. Frequent precipitation and cold temperatures over the past month have kept local farmers from digging in to planting season.

Daily Journal/Tiffany Blanchette

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