UW ag experts say spring planting dates still on track

Amber Burke
Wisconsin State Farmer
The new website offers resources for different levels of expertise to educate people on practices and target outcomes associated with regenerative agriculture like no-till planting.

Although April has been cold and wet, University of Wisconsin-Madison agronomists say farmers shouldn't start stressing out just yet.

"Despite the fact that we are about two weeks behind where we were a year ago, we are still on track for maximum yields for corn and soybeans," says Shawn Conley, UW Soybean and Small Grains Extension Specialist.

Shawn Conley

According to Joe Lauer, UW-Madison Agronomy Professor, "last year we were earlier than normal – in fact, it was one of the earliest planting seasons on record."

Conley adds, "Three years ago we had snow on the ground at this point, so we have to remember that every year is different. I believe we are still in good shape and there is still time to achieve maximum yield potential." 

The precipitation Wisconsin has received over the last few weeks has contributed to soils remaining cool and wet, but Conley says the subsoil is still dry, "so hopefully that will be replenished soon," Conley said.

Joe Lauer

Lauer assures farmers that although they may be eager to start planting crops, there is plenty of time before they would need to alter their plans. He adds, "We are still three to four weeks away from even considering changing to a shorter-season seed hybrid." 

Conley says week's forecast doesn't bode well for planting.

"However, I'm guessing farmers will start planting on Sunday or Monday," said Conley, adding that most farmers he's talked to have invested in high-quality equipment that can plant a lot of acres in a hurry. 

Overall, Conley wants to put farmer's anxiety to rest.

"I understand farmers are feeling a pinch to start planting based on the calendar date. However, one of the worst things you can do is begin too early and mud in a corn or soybean crop. That approach would be setting up for a season of disaster," Conley said. "My advice is, wait until the soil is ready and then start rolling. I always like to tell farmers, you don't have to replant if you don't screw it up the first time."