SPRING PLANTING: Corn Is King

(KWWL) – The USDA’s prospective plantings report is predicting another record year for corn planting.

Farmers are expected to plant 97.3 million acres of corn this year, a small increase from last year and the most corn planted in the U.S. since 1936.

It’s nearly April, but Iowa farm fields are sitting quiet. Farmers aren’t nervous yet. When they do get into the fields, they could be changing their game plan.

But when it comes to what goes in the ground, corn is still king.

“In the last number of years, I’ve picked up more acres on corn,” said farmer Mike Reiter. “The strong prices of corn have been a determining factor.”

That’s also a reason a group of Jesup area farmers are anxious to get in the field and begin spring planting.

But so far, Mother Nature’s not cooperating.

“Typically, right now, we’re really getting starting delivering seed to our customers. But this year we’ve been hesitant to deliver much seed, partly because of the mud but also because a lot of farmers aren’t ready for their seed yet with the cold temperatures and snow banks out, it’s hard to get the see out in the country,” said Gerry Staebell with Pioneer Seed in Jesup.

But there’s still time to get going.

“We’re pretty confident as long as we’re in the field that April 15th-to-20th time frame,” Bader said.

The cold isn’t altogether a bad thing. The snow that fell this winter is helping keep the moisture in the soil better, meaning this year’s crop could be in good shape.

“It could potentially be an issue later on, but right now I feel pretty good with the moisture we have in the ground,” Reiter said.

But because of last summer’s drought, the kinds of crops that get planted could be changing. Some farmers may even make last-minute switches to more soybeans or different corn varieties if the cool weather sticks around much longer.

“Crop rotation plans might change, and maybe some variety changes — planting some earlier varieties instead of later varieties,” Staebell said. “But I don’t think we’ll be at that point for another month or so yet.”

The USDA report is showing a drop in price, but corn is still expected to be at seven or more dollars a bushel. The challenge will be keeping profits up, as input costs — from gas to fertilizer — continue to climb.

Overall, soybean plantings are expected to drop slightly this year. But if the USDA’s projection of 77 million acres of beans holds true, it will still be the fourth-largest soybean planting ever.


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