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Farmers may plant corn, soybeans a few weeks early

Sarah McCammon Mar 23, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: This week marks the official start of spring, but it already feels like summer for much of the country.

And that has farmers thinking about planting corn early, as Iowa Public Radio’s Sarah McCammon reports.

Sarah McCammon: Farmers are tempted to get started now. But if you plant too early, you won’t get federal crop insurance if something goes wrong. Riley Lewis raises corn, soybeans and hogs in northern Iowa. He says the first day for farmers in his area to plant is April 11.

Riley Lewis: I can see April 10 that there will be a lot of farmers with their tractors running, so on April 11 everybody can get going if conditions are right.

Riley says timing is everything. Farmers who start their crops early could beat the summer heat — or get bitten by a late frost.

Richard Cruse is an agronomist at Iowa State University. He says some farmers will take a chance and plant early anyway.

Richard Cruse: It’s like catching the bigger fish, but the person that catches the biggest fish probably put the most cost into it.

Sure, there’s a lot of risk. But if farmers gamble right, they’ll be sitting on a huge crop of corn and soybeans they can sell at some of the best prices in history.

In Des Moines, I’m Sarah McCammon for Marketplace.

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