Mark Licht, an assistant professor of agronomy and cropping systems agronomist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, said most years provide Midwest farmers a roughly eight-week window for planting corn and soybeans that begins in late April. Planting usually peaks in early May, when farmers statewide may plant 1.5 million acres in a day.


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Licht said farmers base the timing of planting on a number of factors, not just what the calendar says.


“It’s not date dependent,” Licht said. “It’s a combination of date, plus soil moisture, soil temperature and the five-day forecast.”


Licht said soil moisture across much of the state looks adequate, and soil temperatures in the vast majority of counties have surpassed the 50-degree mark, the threshold at which soil is warm enough for planting. But he still urged farmers to pay close attention to the five-day forecast before hitting the fields. A cold snap, especially one combined with precipitation immediately after planting, could hurt yields later in the year, he said.


Germination occurs during the first handful of days after a corn seed is planted, making that period of time critical to the crop’s development, Licht said.