Pella Chronicle

April 8, 2013

USDA says crop planting underway in Iowa


DES MOINES — Iowa farmers are finally able to get started on the spring planting season, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The weekly crop condition report issued Monday says warmer weather has thawed the ground in the southern part of the state, where farmers have begun tilling and fertilizing their fields. Some have even begun seeding, particularly with oats.

Oat planting is 11 percent complete, compared to 73 percent complete at this time last year. The five-year average is 31 percent. The picture is better in southeast Iowa, where 24 percent of the crop has been planted.

But the thawing ground reintroduces an issue farmers dealt with for most of the past year: Low moisture. Topsoil in Iowa is dry, with 56 percent rated short or very short. Subsoil moisture levels are even worse, with 85 percent falling into those categories.

That concern could be improved this week, with a wet pattern moving into the state. Forecasts say southern Iowa could see more than an inch of rain before the week ends.