Cooler temperatures hinder planting

By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer

The cool spring has slowed planting, but the moisture means an optimistic outlook for the harvest, Roosevelt County farmers have said.

“The cold temperatures affected it (planting) terribly,” said Kevin Breshears, who farms and has a custom harvesting business.

Joanna Baker, whose family grows organic peanuts in the Floyd area, said it’s been too cold to plant the crop, but time is running out. The last few days have been warm, and she expects their planting to start Monday.

Peanut farmers usually plant in mid-May, she said, but the soil temperature must be about 65 degrees to avoid problems with germination, growth and seedling disease.

“They’re just really a warm-weather crop,” Baker said.

Breshears said cotton planting began last week and is 50 to 60 percent finished. Cotton should be planted by May 15-20, he said, but it needs soil temperatures in the low 60s.

Also, before the recent rain, Breshears said, wind was a problem for cotton because blowing sand can tear up the young cotton plants and kill them. However, the moisture holds down the soil.

Corn crops are about 60 percent planted, with much of it going in after wheat in the same field is cut for silage or hay, Breshears said. He said many farmers are still chopping their wheat, and the corn planting isn’t really late.

“There’s not very many people around here who plant corn early any more,” Breshears said.

What corn farmers did plant in the third week of April took 14 days to emerge instead of the normal 6-8 days, he said. That means its growth will continue to be slower.

As for milo, it needs soil temperatures above 60 degrees to germinate well, Breshears said. However, because 95 percent of it is dryland, he said, most growers don’t start planting it until the last week of May or first week of June anyway.

Breshears doesn’t expect the late planting to impact the harvest, unless the area has a cool summer and early fall that hurts the cotton.

Also, he said the precipitation has helped all of the crops.

“We’ve got a really good start,” Breshears said.

Later in the year, said Roosevelt County Extension agent Patrick Kircher, farmers may plant other crops. Hay grazer goes in as late as July, and some farmers plant wheat again in August.

Also, producers may plant spring oats in February.

“You can find some crop that’s being planted most of the year except in winter,” Kircher said.