Rains delaying crop planting to continue into coming week

Duane Dailey
Senior Writer
University of Missouri Cooperative Media Group

April 15, 2015

COLUMBIA, Mo. - "Not much crop planting in the week ahead," said Pat Guinan, University of Missouri Extension climatologist. "Unsettled wet weather is expected to continue."

In the first of the agronomy teleconferences with MU Extension specialists, Guinan said the slow start on 2015 crop planting won't improve soon.

While there are no indications of strong rainfall, the heaviest precipitation is expected over the coming weekend, Guinan said. Temperatures in mid-April hit highs of only the mid-60s, with below-normal temperatures expected next week.

Regional agronomists from across the state said farmers were "getting antsy" about not starting to plant.

Wayne Flanary, agronomist at Oregon, Mo., said he sees few planted cornfields, with the northernmost one at Mound City, north of St. Joseph.

Dave Reinbott, Benton, said there was some corn up and looking good in the Missouri Bootheel, but that crop planting was delayed.

While rainfall was uneven across the state, Guinan said, some areas in central and southeastern Missouri had over 2 inches of rainfall last week.

"After a fairly dry winter, we've seen precipitation running above normal in most areas. The driest counties are in far northeast Missouri."

With delayed planting, there was little to report on crop pests by the regional specialists.

However, wet, cool weather proves different for grass farmers.

Rob Kallenbach said pastures on 12 farms monitored across the state grew up to 200 pounds of dry matter per day. "It's almost unheard of," he said.

Heavy grass growth is more than grazing cattle can keep up with. There will be forage for baling for winter feed. However, wet weather will be challenging.

"Baleage, or plastic-wrapped big bales of wet hay, is one option," Kallenbach said.

However, the burst of growth isn't expected to continue as cool-season grasses reach their spring growth peak.

Tim Schnakenberg, Galena, in southwestern Missouri, said alfalfa weevils were the hot topic in his area. Farmers have trouble controlling the annual pest on the legume crop.

"Newly established stands are hardest hit," Schnakenberg said.

Alfalfa weevils are a bigger issue in southern Missouri than in the north, said Wayne Bailey, MU Extension entomologist.

With continued wet weather, fungal pathogens could hit the weevil larvae, Bailey said. "We may not have to spray much. However, in dry areas of the north, the fungus may not develop."

Bailey urges producers to scout alfalfa fields often. The youngest larvae hide in growing tips of alfalfa. They can be in large numbers almost before they become visible.

In the teleconference, state extension specialists guide regional specialists to the latest control information for insects and diseases.

The teleconferences are part of the MU Extension Integrated Pest Management program in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Lee Miller, MU Extension turf specialist, heads the IPM program.

Source: Pat Guinan, 573-882-5908; Wayne Bailey, 573-864-9905; Robert Kallenbach, 573-884-2213