Iowa farmers facing Friday deadline to get corn planted

Deadline set by the USDA risk management agency for "prevented planting" in Iowa

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Iowa farmers, well behind the five-year average in terms of corn planting progress, are facing a Friday deadline to get their crop in the ground or see their insurance coverage reduced.

Eighty-five percent of Iowa’s corn crop had been planted as of Sunday, behind the five-year average of 98 percent, according to the U.S.

Department of Agriculture.

Dave Miller, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation economist, said May 31 is the deadline set by the USDA risk management agency for "prevented planting" in Iowa. That's the last date producers can plant corn and still receive full crop insurance coverage.

"Insurance coverage for corn planted after that date is reduced by 1 percent daily," Miller said. "Farmers can plant soybeans with full insurance coverage through June 15."

Miller said the U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeing the slowest planting progress for corn and soybeans nationally in at least two decades.

"It is even slower than in 1993 when rain-soaked Iowa fields were covered with so much water that the state appeared in satellite photos as the ‘6th Great Lake’," Miller said.

Farmers, biodiesel manufacturers and grain exporters will be affected if the soybean crop falls short of expectations. Miller said there is a lot of pressure on farmers to produce this year.

"When we talk about the numbers, the reality is we’ve got a lot of soybeans yet to be planted," Miller said. "Soybean fields that have not been planted range from 80 percent in north central Iowa to 44 percent in east central Iowa with 60 percent of soybeans yet to be planted statewide."

Miller said the continued rainfall is likely to further delay farmers getting into fields exhibiting standing water.

"It’s likely that by the time it dries up enough for farmers to get into the fields to plant, they’ll be subject to yield reductions due to late plantings," Miller said. "More of the crop will be forced to pollinate in summer heat and will have a shortened growing season and other factors that research has shown contributes to lower yields."

Miller, also a longtime grain farmer, said lower crop yields affect the whole food chain from farmers to consumers.

"Higher feed costs translate to higher meat production costs and reductions in cattle and hog herds," Miller said. "Smaller herds lead to reduced meat supplies, which always drives prices up."

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