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The 2023 planting season has brought challenges for farmers in Missouri and Iowa, with varying weather patterns impacting their operations.

Missouri farmer Brian Threlkeld, who cultivates corn and soybeans in Shelbina, shares that this season has started differently compared to the previous year. In 2022, excessive rainfall delayed his planting until May 10. However, this year, Threlkeld began planting around April 2 due to a dry winter. Unfortunately, the lack of precipitation has resulted in uneven corn emergence. Threlkeld remains hopeful that the situation will improve in the coming weeks.

The effects of the dry winter are evident in the soil moisture supplies, as reported by the USDA's May 14 Crop Progress report. Missouri's topsoil moisture supplies were rated 12% very short, 28% short, 57% adequate, and only 3% surplus. The subsoil moisture supplies showed similar conditions, with 12% rated very short, 31% short, 54% adequate, and 3% surplus.

Threlkeld mentions the exceptional dryness, with only about an inch of rain received since planting. His operation, spanning three counties, is currently facing D2 moderate drought and abnormally dry conditions. Recent precipitation has provided some relief, but additional rain is desperately needed.

According to the drought monitor map, nearly 40% of Missouri's acres are now drought-free, marking a significant increase compared to just over 15% the previous week. The area experiencing abnormally dry conditions decreased from 48% to 28%. While D1 moderate drought conditions increased slightly to over 20%, D2 severe drought conditions decreased from over 17% to just above 11%. Fortunately, there are no acres dealing with D4 exceptional drought conditions.

Despite the challenges faced at the start of the growing season, Threlkeld maintains optimism for his operation, which he has been managing since 1991. He expresses excitement about planting crops and observing their growth and development.

In Iowa, excessive precipitation has led to some farmers needing to replant their crops due to rot and decay caused by the prolonged wet conditions. Mark Storr, a senior tech service representative for BASF, explains that these farmers essentially have to start over from scratch.

Although increased rainfall can contribute to disease risks, it has helped Iowa eliminate the remaining traces of D4 exceptional drought conditions, which affected a small percentage of the state's acres. Currently, just over half a percent of the state is experiencing D3 extreme drought conditions, and less than 2% is facing D2 severe drought conditions. D1 moderate drought affects over 23% of Iowa, while abnormally dry conditions cover just over 28% of the state. Drought-free acres now account for over 45% of Iowa.

Storr acknowledges the concerns but mentions that transitioning into an El Niño pattern has eased some problems in Iowa. El Niño years typically favor average yields, and Storr expects closer-to-average rainfall during this weather pattern.

The USDA's Crop Progress report for Iowa indicates mostly adequate soil moisture conditions for the 2023 growing season. Topsoil moisture supplies were rated 7% surplus, 76% adequate, 14% short, and only 3% very short. Subsoil moisture supplies showed 3% surplus, 68% adequate, 23% short, and 6% very short.

Considering the potential for unpredictable weather, Storr suggests farmers may need to apply fungicides earlier. BASF's Veltyma and Headline AMP fungicides are recommended for corn, while Priaxor and Revytek fungicides are suggested for soybeans as preventative measures.

While both Missouri and Iowa face challenges at the beginning of the planting season, farmers remain resilient, adapting their strategies and remaining hopeful for favorable conditions and successful harvests.