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Rock Island County corn planting faces weather delays

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The aftermath of extreme weather is slowing the start of spring planting for Illinois farmers.

Just 5% of the state's corn crop is in the ground. That's lagging behind the five-year average of 22%.

Rain and cool temperatures also slowed work for Iowa farmers during the past week.

Friday's sunshine is a welcoming sight in Taylor Ridge. But the soil just isn't ready at Tom Mueller's farm.

"The ground is still cold," he said.

Soil temperatures need to top 50 degrees, or the corn won't grow properly. That means Tom will plant later than usual.

"The ground temperature is still just barely warm enough to get a seed to germinate," he said.

That's why his seeds will stay in storage for the time being. And with rain expected much of the upcoming week, they'll likely remain bagged until early May.

"That's just not a good environment for these new little seeds to try to grow," he said.

It represents the wide variety of Illinois weather in recent years.

In 2011, muddy, wet and cold conditions delayed spring planting.

Two years ago, Mueller's green pasture tempted him to plant early.

Last year, he hit the fields on May 1 before facing more soggy delays.

"That's just the average of the extremes," he said. "We may be in one of those extreme years."

When weather doesn't cooperate, farmers learn to adapt. Mueller will hold off even longer. He hopes to complete corn planting by May 10.

He is looking forward to being in the fields again. It will be a relief to plant his corn crop.

"You just have to deal with Mother Nature, and the hand she deals to us," he concluded.

A hand that makes sunshine a tempting alternative.

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