Hometown Farmer: Planting Preview

With all of that snow on the ground, you might not believe it's March outside.

"It looks cold and frozen," admits Joel DeJong, an Iowa State University Agronomist, sitting in his office in Le Mars.

And if you take a look, it's frozen pretty deep, too.

"So that's 50 inch deep frost after that last cold spell," said DeJong.

But DeJong says the snow on the ground won't really mean much more moisture when it comes time to plant.

"When it's frozen and you get snow melt on frozen ground," said DeJong. "Quite often a lot of that will run off."

But we're in good shape.

As of last fall, most of Iowa was about average for ground moisture.

So, when spring rolls around and planters are in the field, how the crops end up doing might all depend more on what cycle we're in.

The weather goes in cycles that are 30 to 35 years long.

DeJong says we're in a warming cycle now.

"We get more erratic weather, we get hotter, warmer summers, you get cooler winters, you get more variation" said DeJong. "You typically get more snow fall and bigger snowfall events."

That means unpredictability when it comes to yields in Siouxland fields.

"We've had some real stress years, we've had some good years, and it's more mixed and matched, and it's more varied away from what the average is," said DeJong. "I think we're going to see that probably for several more years."

But there's plenty of time between now and planting season for snow to melt, rain to come and crops to have a fighting chance.

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