Corn planters started poking out of machine sheds and farm shops last week as soon as the sun appeared after two weeks of cloudy, rainy weather that blanketed most of Iowa.

"People want to plant corn next week, if not sooner," Angie Rieck-Hinz, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension field agronomist in north central Iowa, said last Thursday. She said she saw a couple of planters parked in farm yards as she traveled home from a meeting. "People are getting itchy with the sun out."

An exceptionally warm Feb­ruary, the second-warmest on record in Iowa, tantalized farmers with thoughts of early planting. March temperatures were also slightly above normal, but a wet spell spanning the last week of March and the first week of April squelched any ideas that planters might roll much before the April 11 crop insurance date.

"It’s been rainy for basically the past two weeks, especially in south central and southeast Iowa, which were the parts of the state that needed moisture...