Spring planting delayed by lingering winter weather - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Spring planting delayed by lingering winter weather

These Spencer fields are covered in snow, pushing planting back by at least another week. These Spencer fields are covered in snow, pushing planting back by at least another week.

April 15 is significant to most of us because that's when taxes are due, but farmers have it circled on their calendars for a different reason.

It's when spring planting normally starts, but this year, it was a day of below average temperatures, with snow on the way. The only seeds being sown were ones of frustration.

Jeremy Thiesen has been farming since he was a kid. When he looks over his fields now, he can't believe this is April.

"This is one of the first springs I've seen like this that I can remember. Quite a challenge, quite a difference from last year," said Thiesen.

At this time last year, Thiesen says he was halfway done with planting. Now, he hasn't even started on the family's 900 acres of corn and soy beans.

"We had high hopes to get going. A lot of people in the area, they remember what last spring was like, and it was nice to get going early and mother nature kind of squelched their ideas," said Thiesen.

Paul Kassel is a field agronomist for the Iowa State University extension office in Clay County. He says even though the weather is drastically different from last year, it's not that far from normal.

"Two years ago, we had a wet and cool April, and the weather kind of straightened around the last few days of April and most of the corn was able to be planted very timely that year, roughly the first week of May, so that worked out fine," said Kassel.

He says cold weather is forcing farmers to start planting later than usual, which could stunt development of the crops. Forecasts now say temperatures should steady into the 50s or higher by Wednesday.

"The concern is that say the pollination, maybe you push that into the hotter time frames of the summer months and of course last year, we had that and we still had some pretty good yields, if we had the rainfall," said Kassel.

Kassel says Clay, Dickinson, Palo Alto and Emmet counties received enough late summer rains last year to avoid falling into a deeper state of drought than much of the rest of Iowa. That precipitation is starting to come now, he says, to the relief of many farmers.

"This rain we've had the last 10 days or so, there's been virtually no runoff that I've been aware of in the area. So, that's good news," said Kassel.

With the ground looking like it could be January or February, Thiesen says some consistent sunlight could quickly get things back on track.

"At this point, you don't really know. It could be a week from now; it could be three weeks from now. We're talking about hopefully that first week of May. We'll see what happens," said Thiesen.

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