Central Iowa farmer looks forward to growing season

by | Jun 5, 2019 | 5 Ag Stories, News, Row Crop Run 2019

This spring has been abnormally wet.

However, a central Iowa farmer is not letting Mother Nature rain on his parade.

Mark Kenney, of Story County, reflects on spring planting. He describes himself as fortunate, as his acreage did not receive heavy rainfall.

?We?ve had plenty of water, through April and May, but not nearly (as much as) other areas of the state or the eastern Corn Belt,? Kenney said. ?Here we?ve been fortunate to get all of our commercial crops, both corn and soybeans, in.?

When I spoke to Kenney last week, he had about a days worth of seed corn left to plant. Fortunately, the weather remained favorable enough for him to wrap up planting. Kenney says he now looks forward to the growing season.

?Last fall was definitely a challenge,? Kenney said. ?(There were) a lot of things (that didn?t get) done last fall that we typically get done. This spring has been a challenge, especially with the heavy snowfall and our roads becoming nearly impassable at times. All things considered, I?m pretty pleased with the way things are right now, looking forward to the growing season now.?

Kenney seeded oats following seed corn harvest this past fall. The cover crop grew rapidly, becoming knee high in early October.

?This fall, the oats we had seeded after seed corn put a tremendous amount of growth on them and held the soil really well through this brutal winter we had. This spring, it?s nice to be able to plant right into that trash and I don?t have to do anything chemically to kill them. They put on a tremendous amount of biomass last year, added organic matter to our soil, reduced erosion (and) scavenged some nutrients for us,? Kenney said.

Kenney is unique, in that he grows oats versus other cover crop varieties. He shares why he chose oats and how they have played an important role throughout his operation.

?I like oats because we?re able to grow our own seed,? Kenney said. ?I grow oats in our seed corn isolation areas, where we have the setback from other commercial corn crops. It?s a good rotation for us. I?m (also) able to sell the straw bales as another little side deal.?