Planting Season: Deciding Which Crops and When


With planting season upon us, area commodity leaders say there’s a lot that goes into deciding what crops to put in the ground, and when to do it.

Merrick County farmer and United Soybean Board Director Greg Greving says Nebraska won’t be seeing a big drop or jump in acres of that crop this year.

“A lot of the people that we’ve talked to and had conversations with this year - there might be a little shift in acres, but it’s going to be very minimal here in Nebraska,” says Greving.

Greving says in today’s import/export world the global economy can quickly change even what a central Nebraska farmer chooses to plant.

“China can say, ‘we’re going to buy how many million metric tons of soybeans,’ or they can say, ‘no, we’re not,’ and that can influence the market one way or the other,” he says.

The USDA predicts both Nebraska farmers and those across the nation will plant less corn this year – 9.4 million Nebraska acres (compared to 9.95 million in 2013) and 91.7 million nationally (3.7 million fewer than 2013).

Nebraska Corn Board member Curt Friesen says he worked with all corn last year, and though prices drive planting decisions for farmers like him, it’s not what has him considering a few acres of soybeans this time.

“Typically the prices would drive my changes, this year I just wanted to get back in my crop rotation because of insects, things like that,” says Friesen.

Farmers say they’ve been busy with pre-plant work this spring because it’s not just choosing what to plant, but when to do it. Much of Nebraska remains in moderate drought conditions, so any spring showers are more than welcome. However, the state climatologist says it’s cool ground temperatures that are holding up planting, so farmers say they’re anxious for a few warm days in a row.

“We might just go anyhow - the threat of rain and getting the crop in on time is pretty important, but this year the soil temperature has been cold and it’s stayed that way, it really hasn’t warmed up,” says Friesen.

Friesen says when it’s time to plant, it’s time. That doesn’t mean the weather conditions will stop being a factor during growing season.

“There’s plenty of moisture for planting, I’m not concerned with that, but I am concerned that we still seem to be in a drought pattern,” say Friesen.

State Climatologist Al Dutcher says this past Nebraska winter was the 27th coldest and 18th driest in 118 years of records. Some good news on moisture – Dutcher says many snowpack places whose water ends up here in Nebraska are above normal, so stream flows could be up through mid-summer.
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