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The U.S. 2018 Corn Crop Is Already Coming Out of the Ground

Texas, Louisiana farmers try to beat optimal planting dates.

The first U.S. corn for 2018 is already coming out of the ground.

Farmers as far north as southern Mississippi and northeastern Louisiana have been planting corn this week, while the first corn went into the ground in southern Texas in late February.

Texas farmers have been planting through wet conditions that have delayed some fieldwork.

Along with wet conditions, colder temperatures have made the start of the corn growing season a slight difficulty for the seeds.

Wilbert Hundl, USDA/NASS director of Texas’s Southern Plains Region, says the state’s farmers are fighting rain events to start the season.

Today, the USDA will update planting progress. As of last week, Texas farmers had planted 11% of their corn, behind a 14% pace from a year ago, and ahead of a five-year average of 10%.

“There is corn in the ground, but rain has delayed the processes of applying fertilizer and planting,” Hundl says. “We should see corn planting pick up in the next two weeks.”

Hundl says that area farmers recorded average corn yields last year right at 140 bushels per acre, above 127 bushels per acre in 2016.

This planting difficulty along with price will support fewer acres of the grain in the South, says Corey Brown, a Wharton County, Texas, Extension Agent.

“We’re not behind on planting corn, yet, but for those areas that haven't planted, we are behind on applying liquid fertilizer and getting the ground ready,” Bowen says.

Located about 60 miles southwest of Houston, along the upper Gulf Coast of Texas, Bowen says that area farmers are approaching their optimal planting date.

“For great yields, you really need to have the corn in the ground by March 20,” Bowen says. April 15 is the crop insurance date, but if you get into April, the yield potential really drops.”

Farmers in Crescent, Texas, have been active planting corn since March 2.

“Planting will be fast and furious, today, because there is rain in the forecast for later this week,” Bowen says.

Bowen adds, “For those farmers who do have their corn in the ground, it should emerge this week, if we can get more 73°F. days.”

Wharton County, Texas, is expected to plant about 70,000 acres of corn, this year, nearly equal to last year.

Louisiana Corn Planting

Farther north, the 2018 corn planting season is underway in northeast Louisiana.

Hank Jones, a northeast Louisiana crop consultant, says that farmers got their planters out last week.

“It started about three days ago – not wide open yet, but a lot will get planted this week,” Jones says.

Louisiana planted just below 500,000 acres of corn, last year. That number is expected to drop, Jones says.

“Corn acres will be down 20% from a year ago, due to price,” Jones says. “Soybean acres will be going up. If we see a 25¢ rally in the corn market, in the next two weeks, we could see more corn planted around here.”

Jones added, “Corn at $4.25-$4.50 per bushel is a much different acreage story.”

In this mostly irrigated corn-growing area, yields average between 180 and 200 bushels per acre, with some yields as high as 230, Jones says.

Meanwhile, in the Franklin and Richland Parishes of Louisiana, corn planting is delayed.

Only 1% to 2% of the corn has been planted, due to very wet conditions. The corn planting progress is two weeks behind normal pace, area experts say.

Much like many other areas of the Deep South, these two parishes expect to plant less corn and more soybean and cotton acres in 2018.


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