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Pondering early planting

Jeff Caldwell 03/16/2012 @ 2:14pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

With as mild as the weather's been in the Corn Belt lately, a lot of farmers have turned attention to spring fieldwork, with planting not too far in the back of their minds. But, say the planting window opens early this spring: Will you jump in and get rolling soon, or will you wait until a more typical timeframe before you roll out your planter?

Farmers, traders, weather-watchers and agronomists are all taking aim at that question right now. If the weather holds, some say that planting early isn't a bad idea. But, that's a big 'if.' And, there are some issues that can crop up when planting this early. So, what's the right choice? Here are a few resources to help make your planting decision.

Early spring = more corn?

The USDA's latest estimate that farmers will plant 94 million acres this year seems "reasonable" for now, but that number could grow with an early spring, says Jim Borel, DuPont's executive VP over its agriculture business. "If we have some moisture and a nice open spring, that could favor more corn," he says in an interview.

But, don't be fooled by the early spring-like weather; winter's not necessarily over, and even if it is, there are risks to planting this early. Then, there are the moisture extremes in parts of the nation's midsection. Whether you're able to successfully plant your crop early this spring will depend a lot on your moisture situation, experts say.

Farmers aren't the only ones with planting on their minds. Traders on the CME Group floor in Chicago are also watching closely what happens in the field. But, some market-watchers are more concerned with being late than they are being early this spring.


From the crowd

"Here we don't like to push the too early window too much, as we can get a spat of cold weather, and uneven emergence."

-- Marketing Talk senior contributor Nebrfarmr

"We are still a month away from normal corn planting time, but last year was very wet so that is sticking in my mind."

-- Frequent contributor chipster22


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