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Extreme weather slows corn planting in Rock Island County

Posted on: 1:47 pm, May 1, 2013, by , updated on: 03:06pm, May 1, 2013

Wednesday marked the first day of corn planting for Tom Mueller. But it might be the last for a while.

“These soil conditions are real good,” he said, while checking a row on his Taylor Ridge farm. He’s starting about a week later than usual.

“We never knew if winter was ever going to get over, and that spring was going to come,” he said.

That’s why he’s planting corn while the sun shines. The soil temperature is finally warm enough.

“The ground is nice,” he said. “It’s not too dry or too wet.”

Soil temperature needs to climb about 50 degrees, or the corn won’t grow.

“If they just lay in that cool, wet soil, why they’ll rot instead of starting to grow,” he said.

Mueller knows a lot about unusual weather. Two years ago, muddy, wet fields and cold conditions delayed spring planting. Last year, his pasture looked greener than ever, tempting him to plant early.

“It seems like we don’t really know what normal is any more,” he said. “It’s either too much one way or too much the other.”

Now, forecasters say conditions could deteriorate in coming days. That’s forcing some farmers to hold off even longer.

Mueller might not be able to plant again for another week. That’s with more soggy delays. He wants to be done by May 10th.

“We’ve got to deal with Mother Nature,” he concluded. “And go with what she gives us.”

In Tom Mueller’s case, the first and last day of planting, at least for now.