Fruit, vegetable growers foresee large crops

Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm

JUNE 5 OUTSTANDING IN THEIR FIELD COLUMN — compiled by PETE TEMPLE, SPORTS/AG EDITOR

• Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey reported that Iowa fruit and vegetable growers are anticipating large crops of spring produce, according to an Iowa Department of Agriculture press release.

Iowa’s first crops of the spring such as strawberries, asparagus and rhubarb are starting to become available across the state, and should be followed in the next few weeks by leafy greens, radishes, carrots, green beans and other late spring/early summer produce.

“It is always exciting when the first fruits and vegetables of the year become available at the farmer’s market or by visiting an on-farm store,” Northey said.

Iowa-grown fresh fruits and vegetables may be slightly delayed in some parts of the state due to cool weather in April, so it’s a good idea to contact area farmers to find the status of their crops, he said.

• Northey also commented on the Iowa Crops and Weather Report that was released May 28:

“The wet weather continues to slow planting progress, as farmers remain well behind the five-year average for both corn and soybean planting progress,” Northey said. “It will likely take several days of dry weather for fields to dry enough for farmers to resume planting.”

The weekly report is available online at www.IowaAgriculture.gov or www.nass.usda.gov.ia.

• Iowa’s wettest May on record has delayed soybean planting progress by nearly 50 percent, raising concerns about the crop’s growth, development and maturity, according to an Iowa Soybean Association press release.

Yet farmers remain hopeful that advancements in genetics, timely decision making and a return to more normal growing conditions will produce a good crop come harvest time.

As of May 28, only 40 percent of the state’s soybean crop had been planted. By this time last year, Iowa soybean farmers had planted 95 percent of their soybean acres. The five-year average is 83 percent.

“Regardless of whatever gets planted from here on out, which will most likely happen in mid-June, we will see yield reductions,” adds Grant Kimberley, ISA director of market development who farms with his father near Maxwell. The team had only five days of planting opportunities in May.

“The key for farmers is to work with their crop insurance providers and seed dealers to look at options and to sit down with their bankers or financial advisors to run numbers to know where they stand and understand all of their options.”

According to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach research, soybean yields, on average, decline by .25 to .9 bushels per day seed isn’t in the ground after May 15.

While modern seed hybrids and varieties are amazing for growing quickly and catching up after late planting or adverse environmental conditions, yield suffers when fieldwork is delayed or when plants aren’t allowed to mature before frost, says Ed Anderson, ISA senior director of supply and productions systems.

• Six Iowa counties have been designated as part of a Presidential Major Disaster Designation: Clinton, Des Moines, Lee, Louisa, Muscatine and Scott, according to a USDA press release.

The designations are the result of severe storms, straight-line winds and flooding from April 16 through May 5 of this year. Farmers affected may be eligible for low-interest emergency loans, according to John Whitaker, executive director of the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Iowa.

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