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Frigid Fields Might Delay Planting

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) As people in the corridor are recovering from a long and frigid winter, farmers fields are also feeling the effects. Some farmers say if there isnt uncharacteristically warm weather over the next month, it could push back their planting schedule.

The tough conditions started with a drought at the end of last summer and only got worse when the winter frost rolling in. That means Iowa farm fields will be quiet for at least a few more weeks.

"You see right there that screw driver, I have to push pretty hard to get it to penetrate into the ground, so if I try to pull anything up, it's pretty chunky, said Linn County Farmer Brian Lensch as he poked his corn field with a screwdriver.

That means while farmers want to be in their fields right now, prepping the land for planting, theyre sitting on their hands.

"You can see the soil still has ice crystals on it so, it's a good two to three weeks, said Lensch as he held a piece of frozen dirt. Anything that has to require tillage or anything that goes in the ground, we're several weeks yet."

Drought conditions at the end of summer meant winters frost packed an extra punch. Johnson County Farmer Steve Swenka had pipes freeze that are five feet underground.

"Was that frost enhanced because the ground conditions were a little drier than usual? Yeah, I would say that definitely played a factor in getting the frost that deep."

Even the moisture that could have come from melting snow couldnt help.

"Snow or rain on top of that frozen ground, as soon as it melts it's just going to run off, or a high percentage of that is just going to run off, said Swenka.

Meaning itll take more rain to get the soil to where it needs to be. Lensch says his planting schedule will likely be pushed back to the beginning of May, which is right when Swenka says he would likely be planting anyway.

"There's reason to be optimistic, said Swenka. Maybe a better way to say that is I don't think there's reason to be pessimistic at this point.

Exactly when they put seeds in the ground has a lot to do with what Mother Nature has in store for the next month.

"Whether we have a good crop, an average crop or a bumper crop, it's still anybody's guess, said Swenka.

Farmers say conditions are even worst in western Iowa where theyve had a colder winter and even less rain.
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