Rain may affect grain forecast

Waterlogged fields are causing Midwest grain farmers much angst. Excessive moisture in fields is either jeopardizing the germination of planted seeds or is preventing planting.

“Farms from the Ohio Valley north throughout much of Ohio…have had flooding and above-normal rainfall in the past month but the Ohio Valley has been hardest hit,” said Cincinnati Weather Examiner Rich Apuzzo.

One farmer’s field has literally turned into a pond in Zanesville — It has carp swimming in it, as reported in a The Republic story.

According to a Coshocton Tribune story, “One cubic foot of water weighs more than 62 pounds and there are hundreds of tons of water laying on the fields.” This results in compacted roots to limit yield potential.

However, an Evansville Press & Courier story noted that flooding, in one way, is beneficial, “Nutrient-rich silt deposited by the flood water can often help reduce the amount of fertilizer.”

The optimum planting dates for corn in Ohio are from April 20 to May 10. To date, 1 percent of Ohio’s corn crop is planted, which is 38 percent less than the past year and 13 percent less than the five-year average. Typically, 15 percent of the corn crop is in the ground about this time of the year.

Corn consumption is projected to be near 13.25 billion bushels during the 2011-2012 marketing year. The USDA and others are predicting a national yield of 162 bushels per acre on a projected 92.2 million acres with 87 million acres being harvested for grain.

Farmers are considering alternative planting strategies to circumvent potential weather-induced losses.

Delayed Planting Strategies:
  • Considering a shorter-season hybrid seed
  • Foregoing tilling or practice decrease tillage
  • Using an increased seed rate
  • Using nitrogen later or considering nitrogen alternatives
Though the exact timing of planting is still unknown, one thing is for certain. With commodity prices significantly increased compared to the past spring, U.S. farmers plan to plant 3.99 million, or 4.5 percent, more corn acres than last year, according to the Prospective Plantings report released by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Soybeans have a later plant date than corn — early May — and soybean farmers are also monitoring their fields and using the same assessors to gauge planting decisions. Depending on the ability to still plant a decent corn crop, corn farmers may opt to plant more soybeans this year. State farmers will be finalizing planting plans in the coming days.

Soybean 2011-2012 consumption is projected near 3.33 billion bushels, with a yield near the trend value of 43 bushels per acre on about 76.4 million acres.

Well-drained fields are expected to cope nicely, especially if June is dry. This is good news for Ohio wheat farmers. Ohio’s already-planted winter wheat crop reportedly survived the season in better shape than other states. USDA rates more than 70 percent of Ohio’s wheat in fair to good condition for harvest in July.

The Prospective Plantings report projects a 10-cent reduced average price received by wheat producers for this market year, ranging from $5.50 to $5.70 per bushel.

“Farm prices continue to be reported well below prevailing cash market bids, indicating that farmers priced a substantial portion of this year’s crop well ahead of delivery,” stated the report.

Of course, the ag industry will experience a lion’s share of the blame of potential food-cost increases because of yield loss causing food shortages. Farmers and other agribusiness members should be ready to provide fact-based responses to the multiple factors of food costs such as increases in oil prices and commodity market speculation.

It’s important to note that the 2010 planting season was also delayed, though not to this extent, and still turned out a record corn crop. Most of our farmers are seasoned pros with years of experience and knowledge working on their behalf.

For now, farmers are forced to acknowledge the adage, “Patience is a virtue.”

When are you or people who you know entering the fields? What are you doing differently this year?

Photo obtained from: www.ipm.iastate.edu

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