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Farmers Optimistic Despite Hundreds of Thousands of Unplanted Acres

JOHNSON COUNTY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- The wet spring and consistent flooding across Iowa has forced many farmers to delay -- and possibly forgo -- planting 500,000 acres of corn and 900,000 acres of soybeans statewide.

Despite that, farmers are optimistic that the crops will turn around, and produce a strong harvest -- though there may be some drawbacks.

Russell Meade was one of the lucky ones.

"We were fortunate and we did get everything planted," he said.

That goes for almost all of Johnson County, too, Meade said, though many farmers just outside of the county did get flooded out. Whether or not they're fully planted, almost everyone felt a delay, and that will cost farmers.

"We're expecting the corn to come out of the ground wetter, so we're going to spend more money to dry the corn down," Meade said.

And yield might take a hit, too. In a good year, stalks are usually taller than 5 feet by now, but they are 1 to 2 feet shorter this year, Meade said. The delayed plant will also mean farmers need to watch out for an early frost, which can also kill yield, he said.

Iowa Agricultural Secretary Bill Northey is hoping yields bounce back, and plenty of kernels make it to processing plants like the River Valley Cooperative, which Northey toured Friday. He has Iowa's other industries in mind, as well.

"The livestock business is a big business in Iowa, too, and it depends on good corn production out there to make sure we have enough product to feed our livestock, but also, that it's competitively priced," Northey said.

If the current number of unplanted acres never gets sown, that could cost Iowa about $1 billion out of its $30 billion agricultural industry.

Still, farmers -- Northey included -- are keeping the faith.

"Well, you know every farmer -- and I'm a farmer too -- we're all optimistic always. Now, sometimes that's a little hard when you're sitting there at the edge of the field and you can't get it planted," he said.

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