DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa and Nebraska farmers say they're still on track to get their corn planted despite cold, wet weather that slowed their start to the planting season.
Numbers released Monday from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show 23 percent of Iowa's corn crop has been planted. That's up significantly from last week's 15 percent planted.
The percentage likely will rise quickly this week, as farmers have several warm, dry days before rain returns to the forecast.
Chad Hart, an agriculture economist at Iowa State University, said the next few weeks will be crucial for farmers to get the crop sown. Corn should be in the ground by late April or early May, he said, and further delay could increase the risk of reducing yield or harming the crop, he said.
"We're not in desperate times yet," he said. "The idea is that each day or two we get delayed, we lose a bit of that optimal timeframe."
Jerry Main, a southeast Iowa farmer who plants both corn and soybeans, said he started planting his corn just before heavy rains and severe storms swept across Iowa late last month. The weather hindered his ability to get seeds down during what he called the "prime-time to plant corn," which farmers and agriculture experts generally agree to begin around April 20.
Still, Main said the short delay won't have much of an effect, if any, on the crop's yield this fall.
"I haven't been losing any sleep over it," Main said. "We're in good shape, really. We're getting the crop down."