Story & Photos by Robyn Scherer, M.Agr.

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April 1, 2013
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Projected spring planting hinges on moisture

Across the state, farmers are beginning to prep their fields and make their seed decisions for the 2013 growing season. Corn planting will begin in the next three to four weeks with soybean planting shortly after, and winter wheat is beginning to emerge.

On March 28, the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service released their projected plantings for 2013. “Growers intend to plant 97.3 million acres of corn for all purposes in 2013, up slightly from last year and 6 percent higher than in 2011. Expected returns for corn are again historically high going into 2013. If realized, this will represent the highest planted acreage in the United States since 1936 when an estimated 102 million acres were planted. Record high corn acreage is expected in Arizona, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota and Oregon. Conversely, most states in the Corn Belt, which experienced severe drought in 2012, expect slightly less planted acreage,” the report stated.

In Nebraska, growers intend to plant 9.9 million acres, a one percent decrease compared to what was planted last year, but higher than they planted in 2011.

A recent study was held by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln through the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network offered some insight into the type of planting farmers should do, in terms of seeding rate for corn. “The results since 2010 continue to show us that each individual hybrid varies in its response to increasing populations; however, there is a general trend with newer hybrids that increasing population results in increased yields,” said Jenny Rees, Extension Educator, in her blog JenREESources’s Extension Blog.

She continued, “We know that many seed companies have conducted research to determine the population calibration curve for each hybrid to determine best recommendations for you. Thus, we’d recommend that you check with your seed dealer to determine which hybrid may fit best at which population for your operation.”

On-Farm research has allowed growers to have an active role in research. “Even with this data, you may question if that’s truly the best population for your field; that’s where on-farm research comes in. We recommend testing the recommended population against a higher and lower population with at least 4,000 seeds/acre difference in planted population-whether irrigated or dryland. With today’s technologies, it’s not very difficult to test seeding rates for different hybrids for yourself,” she said.

The results of the study showed what rate farmers were advised to plant. “In the majority of our irrigated studies, economically, many hybrids maximized yields and economic returns between 32,000-36,000 seeds/acre. Again, this is very hybrid dependent so ask your seed dealer what he/she would recommend and test for yourself,” Rees stated.

Soybean planting usually occurs in conjunction with or directly after corn planting. The USDA projected plantings reported stated, “Soybean planted area for 2013 is estimated at 77.1 million acres, down slightly from last year but the fourth highest on record, if realized. Compared with 2012, planted area is down across the Great Plains with the exception of North Dakota. Nebraska and Minnesota are expecting the largest declines compared with last year, while Illinois and North Dakota are expecting the largest increases.”

In Nebraska, it is expected the area for soybean planting will be 4.7 million acres, which is seven percent fewer acres than last year.

Winter wheat is beginning to make its appearance in some areas. Wheat is going to see a five percent increase, with farmers reporting 1.45 million acres being planted. However, this number is under 2011 figures.

Wheat conditions are not favorably, however. According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Nebraska Field Office Crop Progress Report for March, “Wheat conditions rated 23 percent very poor, 38 poor, 33 fair, six good, and zero excellent.”

Nationally, the amount of wheat that is expected to be planted is up. “All wheat planted area for 2013 is estimated at 56.4 million acres, up 1 percent from 2012. The 2013 winter wheat planted area, at 42.0 million acres, is 2 percent above last year and up slightly from the previous estimate. Of this total, about 28.9 million acres are Hard Red Winter, 9.67 million acres are Soft Red Winter, and 3.39 million acres are White Winter. Area planted to other spring wheat for 2013 is expected to total 12.7 million acres, up 3 percent from 2012. Of this total, about 12.1 million acres are Hard Red Spring wheat. The intended Durum planted area for 2013 is estimated at 1.75 million acres, down 18 percent from the previous year,” the projected plantings report stated.

Hay harvested area is expected to increase by five percent, with a reported 2.7 million acres. “Growers intend to plant an estimated 77.1 million acres in 2013, down slightly from last year but up 3 percent from 2011. Compared with last year, planted acreage intentions are down across all of the Great Plains, with the exception of North Dakota, as drought conditions have persisted in many of these areas. However, the net intended change from last year for the United States is only a loss of 72,000 acres as expected increases in planted area across most of the eastern Corn Belt and parts of the Southeast nearly balance out the declines in the Great Plains. If realized, the planted area in New York, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania will be the largest on record,” said the report.

According to the crop progress report, “Hay and forage supplies rated 16 percent very short, 37 short, 46 adequate, and one surplus.”

There are several other crops to be planted in Nebraska that will see an increase as well. Sorghum planting was reported at 150,000 acres, which is 152 percent of last year. Oat planting is expected to be at 60,000 acres, 180 percent of what was planted last year.

Three other crops will see a decrease, however. Dry edible bean area planted was reported at 130 million acres, 90 percent of what was planted in 2012. Sunflower planting for the state was reported at 30,000 acres, nine percent down from the previous year. Sugarbeet planting area was reported at 43.8 million acres, which is a 14 percent decrease compared to the 2012 year.

“Area planted to sugarbeets for the 2013 crop year is expected to total 1.21 million acres, down 2 percent from the 1.23 million acres planted in 2012. Planted area is expected to decrease from the previous year in six of the ten estimating states,” the planting report stated.

Moisture in the soil is still an issue. “Topsoil moisture supplies were rated 37 percent very short, 42 short, 21 adequate, and zero surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies were rated 68 percent very short, 29 short, three adequate, and zero surplus. There was an average of 1.8 inches of snow throughout the state,” the crop progress report stated. ❖

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The Fence Post Updated Oct 16, 2013 03:56PM Published Apr 4, 2013 06:50AM Copyright 2013 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.