The U.S. 2020 corn planting season has kicked off in Texas
While snow blankets the eastern Corn Belt, farmers in the South have their corn planters out.
“We have close to ideal conditions for corn planting,” a central Texas farmer told Agriculture.com Wednesday.
Allen Meissner, a Bartlett, Texas, corn and wheat farmer, says that he is kicking off the 2020 corn planting season this week.
In recent years, the Lone Star state’s farmers planted just over 2.0 million acres of corn. The state’s corn yield average is estimated at 140 bushels per acre. In 2017, Texas farmers produced more than 314 million bushels of corn.
For Meissner, it’s prime planting season.
“It’s been wet. We’re probably one rain away from the soil being too wet to plant. But, that beats having to plant seed 3.5 to 4 inches deep to find moisture. That has been known to happen, too,” Meissner says.
In 2020, Meissner is excited to add a new multihybrid planter to his arsenal.
“I have invested in better planter technology, adding a third planter,” the central Texas farmer says.
Because area farmers experienced a bad cotton crop and good corn crop, last year, more corn is expected to be planted in 2020.
“With the right conditions, so far, we’re leaning toward having more corn in the ground, this year,” Meissner says.
Like most other farmers, Meissner is hoping for higher prices for the old-crop corn that he has in on-farm storage bins.
“We still have some old crop on hand. We’ll sell most of our corn to the poultry industry and into the bagged corn market to feed the deer in the Hill Country of west-central Texas,” Meissner says.
Meanwhile, 60 miles southwest of Houston, Corey Bowen serves as the Wharton County, Texas, Extension agent.
Farmers in his southeast Texas area have their tractors filled with diesel and hooked up to planters chomping at the bit to get the planting season underway.
“Unlike 2019, we have had great conditions for applying liquid fertilizer, this year. A lot of field prep has been finished. For most farmers the ground is ready, we just need the temperatures to warm up a little bit,” Bowen says.
Bowen added, “The forecast is still calling for colder temperatures. So, it might be well into next week before area farmers get in the field to plant. But they are ready.”
Bowen expects about 70,000 acres of corn to be planted in this Gulf Coast county.
“For us, I think the conditions are also leaning toward more corn acres this year,” Bowen says.
The market is awaiting word on whether the U.S. farmers will sharply increase corn acres, following last year’s dismal planting, growing, and harvest seasons.
On Wednesday, USDA/NASS posted a tweet, reminding farmers to look for its Agricultural Survey in the mail the first two weeks of March.
“Your input will help provide vital data on planting intentions for the 2020 growing season, and the amount of grain and oilseed stored on your farms,” USDA stated.
Deep Texas Delays
In southern Texas, Jim Sugarek, is having a very rough time getting his dryland corn planted, due to dry conditions.
"Last year, we had a great crop with all of the rain that we had. We are having the opposite experience this year," Sugarek says.
While Sugarek normally plants 1,600 acres of corn, so far this year, the south Texas farmer has only one-third of his crop planted and two-thirds of his seed still in the bag.
That one-third that did get planted on Valentine's Day. It's barely out of the ground.
While his on-farm corn average is 100 bushels per acre, late planted corn while trying to beat the heat doesn't bode well for this year's crop.
"We are not looking good. Some people are planting in areas, but there are a lot of planters that are parked. We just don't have the moisture," Sugarek says.
The last time the Beeville, Texas farmer saw a 0.50" of rain on his farm was in October 2019. Our soil moisture bank is very depleted. We need a rain soon."
In fact, if no measurable rain falls by March 10, Sugarek will be forced to switch his corn acres to milo or cotton.
Sugarek and his neighbors are already turning on irrigation systems. "It's going to take a lot of rain in the growing season to catch up our moisture bank."
Separately, Sugarek is looking forward to attending this week's Commodity Classic conference in San Antonio.
"Unfortunately, I can attend that show. Normally, it falls during my planting season. But, as I mentioned, we need rainfall to plant the rest of my corn," Sugarek says.