DECATUR — Farmers are sitting back and waiting for the weather to warm up before putting seed in the ground, following the third week of snowfall.
Planting season is not starting off as quickly as some would hope, said Tim Stock, executive vice president of the Macon County Farm Bureau. People want to plant in a timely manner, Stock said, but also a cost efficient method, that won’t require a second planting.
“A couple guys have tried (planting) around the county, putting soybeans in,” Stock said. But “Most guys are keeping the seed in the shed and waiting for the weather to warm up.”
The average last frost in April is April 13 in Springfield, according to the University of Illinois extension. In other parts of the state like Peoria, Rockford and Chicago, the frost date is later in the month and in some cases even into May.
Farmers will begin to plant when the weather warms up, Stock said. Specifically, the soil temperatures need to be in an appropriate range.
“We thought we turned that corner last week but now it’s snowing again,” he said.
Corn and beans, the primary crop of Central Illinois, do not grow properly in cold soil temperatures. The soil temperature should be above 50 degrees Fahrenheit for corn seeds to germinate and above 54 degrees Fahrenheit for soybeans.
If the temperature is below these markers, the crop will not grow evenly and will also leave it vulnerable to disease, insects and animal predators, according to the Illinois Farm Bureau.
Depending on seed varieties, corn takes between 60 to 100 days to fully grow for harvest. The best range for corn to grow is between 60 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit air temperature. Soybeans are ready for harvest between 45 to 65 days after planting.
The average first frost in the fall for Springfield is Oct. 13.
People have planted all through May and into June, Stock said. He’s even heard tales of corn being planted in July, even though he’s never seen it himself, he said.
Last year, some farmers had to plant the same field multiple times due to extreme rain and wet soil conditions. Stock said this may inspire farmers to be more cautious because they don’t want to spend the money on seed, fertilizer and chemicals multiple times.
Wet soil is also a problem for new growth because the saturated environment causes a lack of oxygen for seeds and prevents nutrients from getting to the plant.
“As always the farmers are at the mercy of mother nature, it is one of those things that come with the job,” Stock said.