2018 Planting Season Outlook

Dave Pike
Senior Scientist
The issue many Midwest growers and dealers will confront over the next couple of weeks is going to be wet soils. The heavy rains we have been receiving, and the promise of additional rains to follow, means that some operations such as lime spreading and tillage are likely to be delayed.  If our pattern of heavy rains persists through much of March we may also expect significant delays for preplant fertilizer and herbicide applications.  Thankfully, in much of the Midwest, fall tillage proceeded on a good schedule so growers may not feel overly pressed to get into the fields, but if the rains don't abate soon, all operations are going to be 'pushed' right up to planting.  However, we can at least be thankful for an adequate supply of soil moisture going into the season.  Soil compaction in wet spots may end up being a hazard this spring.
While the above concerns are true generally, for the Texas-Oklahoma panhandle and into southern Kansas, conditions remain on the dry side. Small grain and forage production are already suffering and yields are unlikely to fully recover regardless of future precipitation.  Some winter injury from the extreme variations we have had in temperatures in this region might also take its toll. 
One of the more positive things about extreme temperature variations through the winter months along with wet spring weather is a notable reduction in non-migratory insect pests. While I wouldn't want to be held to the concept as being unfailing, my experience suggests that continuously wet soils, and soils that go through a cycle of wetting from regular excess precipitation, see a reduced survival rate of many soil dwelling bugs.