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Look north for direction on spring planting intentions

Agriculture.com Staff 03/01/2007 @ 1:28pm

TAMPA, Florida -- Four North Dakota farmers attending the Commodity Classic in Tampa, Florida, this week all said they plan to plant more corn this year.

North Dakota has been projected to be the state with the largest gain in corn acres this year on a percentage basis. Statewide, corn acres may jump by 30 to 40 percent, the farmers said.

Monte Peterson, who hasn't planted corn for six years, plans to add a thousand acres of corn to his crop mix this spring. Peterson, who farms in the northwest corner of the state, in Barnes County, says most of that production will come at the expense of hard red spring wheat acres. He's in the process now of building new grain handling and storage equipment to manage the corn this fall.

Brett Johnson, who used to employ a corn-soybean-wheat rotation in the eastern part of the state, has dropped the wheat in recent years and will be adding 7 to 8 percent more corn this year.

Another eastern North Dakota grower, Joel Thorsrud, who farms near Trail City, north of Fargo, will switch some wheat acres to corn, for a about a ten percent increase.

James Dotzenrod, Wyndemere, North Dakota, will bump up his corn ground by about 5 percent. His home county of Richland, south of Fargo, is getting to "look more and more like Iowa," he said. "We used to raise six or seven crops here."

North Dakota farmers will shoot for yields that can rival some prime Corn Belt areas. Improvements in shorter-season hybrids make corn production more viable than it was a few years ago, the growers said.

"I'll fertilize for 170 bushels as a yield goal on some acres this year," Dotzenrod said. "If I get 150, we would consider that terrific. But some fields could go to 180 to 200 bushels, too."

But there are special risks in this northernmost reach of the Corn Belt. Drought and an early frost are always major threats to the region. "What corn's planted versus what's harvested are two different things in North Dakota," Peterson said.

TAMPA, Florida -- Four North Dakota farmers attending the Commodity Classic in Tampa, Florida, this week all said they plan to plant more corn this year.

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