Corn crop is slowly being planted
Brandon Hunnicutt, a producer in Giltner, Neb., doesn’t plan to make any changes to his cropping plan this year, except adding popcorn to the mix.
He’s growing popcorn again after taking a year off. The 2016 season was the first time Hunnicutt didn’t grow popcorn for years, but it was just an off rotation for the crop. Now he’s in the first year of a three-year process to get his popcorn organically certified.
Hunnicutt said he will plant 1,750 acres of corn, 1,000 commercial and the rest split between seed corn and popcorn.
Hunnicutt hasn’t started planting yet, but plans to do so soon.
Jordan Emanuel, who farms in North Bend, Neb., which is roughly 115 miles northeast of Giltner, is further along, but with only a small fraction of his acreage planted.
Half of Emanuel’s corn is for seed and the other is commercial.
Emanuel said there isn’t a lot of changes to what he’s doing this year compared to normal, but he pointed out this is only his sixth year in charge since he graduated from college.
Hunnicutt and Emanuel said rain has hit their areas, in Hamilton and Dodge counties, respectively.
Hunnicutt said although there have been showers in the area, the weather isn’t a concern going into planting.
The weather isn’t as conducive to crop growth in the southern part of the state, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Drought Monitor, which shows most of southern Nebraska is either “abnormally dry” or is in “moderate drought” condition.
In Kansas, rain has delayed the start of planting for some farmers, according to the Associated Press.
The same is the case for northeastern Colorado, with only “abnormally dry” conditions in the western part of the state.
Troy Schneider grows about 1,000 acres of corn between Yuma and Washington counties in Colorado, which is in the “moderate drought” area. He said he just started planting on April 19, and rain on April 21 was welcome. The dry conditions hurt his winter wheat crop because some of it started to sprout in the fall season.
He said he’s not making any major changes, however, to his cropping plan this year because of the weather. Between his and his father’s properties, less than 1,000 acres of corn will be planted, and only 200 acres of those will be on dryland, the rest will be irrigated.
According to the April 17 U.S. Department of Agriculture crop progress report, farmers in Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas are close to the five-year average of corn acres planted at this point.
Kansas is the furthest behind, percentage-wise, compared to the five-year average, with 9 percent planted compared to the 18 percent average. The drop in Kansas is more dramatic compared to this time last year, when the state had 32 percent of the corn crop planted.
Nebraska is 3 percent planted as of April 16, which matches the five-year average. But the state had double the amount planted at this time last year.
But the progress isn’t a concern for farmers. They haven’t even reached the peak of planting season yet.
Schneider said the winter wheat crop in his area didn’t fare well, but they aren’t concerned about the corn crop at this time.
He and Emanuel both sell corn to the local ethanol plants, which has been helpful when prices are low.
“Ethanol definitely helped. I would not want to know where we’d be at without them or the increase in feedlots, too,” Schneider said.
Emanuel echoed the sentiment, saying local plants helped them out last year, too.
“(Prices) still are not good, but we’re very fortunate to have ethanol so close.” ❖
— Fox is a reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at (970) 392-4410, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @FoxonaFarm.