Bob Miller Miller Tractor

Bob Miller, owner of Miller Hybrids in Kalona, stands in his warehouse stocked with seeds.

Waiting has been the name of the game for farmers during one of the slowest planting seasons in the region’s history.

Weeks of unseasonably wet weather have left farmers unable to plant their crops on schedule, leaving them worrying.

Farmers say that they have not witnessed a season like this in a long time. 

While waiting for another rainy day to pass recently, farmers floated in and out of Riverside Grain & Feed Co. They sat inside, sharing cookies from Casey’s General Store and grousing among themselves about the unfavorable season.

Among them was Chuck Sojka, who has been farming in the area for 40 years. He said that, as far as late planting goes, this year has been among the worst yet.

The southeastern Iowa region has seen an unseasonably high amount of rain in recent weeks. Every rainy or wet day is another day that farmers cannot plant.

The average statewide progress for corn planting on June 2 has been 99 percent for the past four years. This year, only 80 percent of the corn crop had been planted at that time, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture crop progress report.

Similarly, the average crop progress for soybeans has been at 89 percent. Only 41 percent of the soybean crop had been planted by June 2 this year.

However, between June 2 and June 9, the skies began to clear, and farmers took advantage of the dry days.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s report released June 9, the corn crop progress rose from 80 to 93 percent, while the soybean crop progress rose from 41 to 70 percent.

Those involved in the agricultural industry are aware of the variability of good planting weather from season to season. Because of this, suppliers offer seeds ranging from shorter-term to longer-term. 

This means that, if rainy days delay planting, farmers can still purchase seeds that will produce a crop in a sufficient period of time. However, short-term seed will not produce as high of a yield as a full-season seed.

With the time left to plant growing thin and farmers from across the Midwest hastening to get their crop planted, short-term seed is in short supply.

“You have different people wanting the same seed – you can’t make everyone happy,” said Bob Miller, owner of Miller Hybrids in Kalona.

Miller has owned and operated Miller Hybrids since 2004, when he opened and began running the business from an office in his home.

He has since expanded the business to its current location off Highway 22 west of Kalona. 

The company now has a full-time staff and warehouse. Most recently, Miller expanded his warehouse to nearly triple its original size and added 80 solar panels to power the operation.

“It has been a work in progress,” Miller said.

All of that seed housed in his warehouse must have somewhere to go, and farmers in the region are hoping to get their hands on it before it is too late.

But planting too late in the season can have costly effects.

Before planting, farmers must prepare their land. This preparation takes time and resources. 

Planting too late in the season may not produce enough of a crop to justify the costs that go into preparing the land.

There are measures that farmers can take to ensure they will not be affected too harshly by a bad season, such as purchasing crop insurance.

Crop insurance ensures that farmers will receive a payout for around 55 percent of their crop if it is not planted by a certain date, Miller said.

The extended wet season affects more than just crop farmers. Farmers, seed sellers and chemical producers alike are feeling its effects.

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