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Taking a stand

Area farmers weigh the risks of replanting corn, soybeans

Published: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 11:08 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, June 19, 2014 1:53 p.m. CDT

As farmers consider testing their luck by extending the growing season, they are stuck waiting to see the extent of the damage to their crop stands to see how much will be covered by insurance.

The warmer, late spring weather has shed some sunlight on the damage done by severe weather that rolled through southern Iowa June 3. With dry fields and work to be done, farmers are chomping at the bit to get started.

“Adjusters have to wait seven days (for hail damage),” said Adam Travis, co-owner of Hometown Insurance in Creston. “You can tell a whole lot more about what is going to come back and what died.”

Travis said many farmers were hopeful the corn had not matured to the point where the stalk’s growing point was damaged.

“We kept telling guys to wait, see if it will come back,” Travis said. “Corn has a growing point that stays below ground (until a certain point of maturity). Theoretically, the stalk could lose all of its leaves, but as long as the growing point is not damaged, it should obtain the same yield potential.”

But, Travis said the damage was extensive and a lot of area farmers were stuck. Most fields had already had fertilizer applied that is specific to corn, so fields could not be switched to soybeans.

“I know it was a tough call for a lot of guys, to go with half a stand or a full stand and have it really late,” Travis said.

Planting this late also runs the risk of having wetter corn during harvest — increasing drying cost — and there is potential of frost and snow hurting the crop.

“Yields are going to suffer,” said Aaron Saeugling, extension field agronomist for 14 counties in southwest Iowa.

Saeugling has been in the field a lot over the past two weeks inspecting the damage done by the heavy rain, wind and hail that came with the storm system.

While some of the fields did recover better than expected, Saeugling said other fields lost more than half their stand.

Lee Farris, chairman of the Soil and Water Conservation Board, planted a stand of more than 160,000 soybeans. It is now down to less than 70,000.

“Luckily, the hail stopped about where my corn started,” Farris said.

Travis said the beans were at a much more vulnerable point in the growing stage when the hail hit.

Farris already received approval to replant about 70 acres of soybeans from federal adjusters, but hail insurance adjusters have not been out to his field yet.

Travis said farmers need to wait to get that nod of approval like Farris did.

“If they go to plant new beans into old beans, it is really important they call us first,” Travis said. “They might not repay a replant claim, even if the ground is dry and guys want to replant.”

For corn, farmers are receiving about $32 an acre to cover replant costs. Soybeans are about $34 an acre.

Saeugling said the weather will still be the major factor — especially this fall — behind the success of the replant. Smaller crops are more subseptable to pressure from insects.

“We have a little time yet,” Saeugling said. “Guys working to replant beans will continue to try through the end of the month.”

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