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Farmers undaunted by late spring

A tractor plants corn on Deb Johnson's farms in western Douglas County. Johnson said spring planting was going "very well" despite the late start this year. (Contributed)

From outside the agricultural world, the late planting season might seem a daunting one to area farmers.

But some local growers say it's really not that bad.

Douglas County Corn and Soybean Growers President Russ Elliott said he is actually two days ahead of where he was last year at this time.

"I think we'll be able to get everything in," said Elliott, who farms near Evansville. "It's just started to go good now. We're being selective about which fields we go in. ... There's still frost coming out of the ground."

One of that organization's board members also shrugged her shoulders about how the weather affected spring planting.

Deb Johnson, who farms in western Douglas County, said their planting started the first week of May, 10 days later than last year. But she is optimistic.

"It's going very well," she said. "Some fields are still a little too wet but the farmers know their soil and which type of ground warms up the fastest and dries out the fastest."

Strong winds and a hot May sun helped dry fields so tractors could get into them, spreading corn seed as well as some wheat.

There's no question the weather threw some obstacles before farmers this year. Some fields contain wet patches that will probably go unplanted, eating into yields. Elliott said he'd heard of tractors getting stuck in muddy fields.

"We're just having to go slow, kind of stumbling out of the gate," he said.

Farmers may be hurrying to get as much done as they can, with slow-moving tractors rumbling along the roadways.

"This is a unique spring, to say the least," said Steve Frericks, executive director of the Douglas County FSA Office. "Tell the public to give the farmers space and be patient please."