Record Cold Delays Corn Planting


Corn planting is at a standstill, and it's not just Nebraska. Across the country only four percent of corn has been planted.

The upshot is that snow and rain have made a huge dent on the drought.

Despite that relief, it's come with record cold that has planting two weeks behind schedule.

"We're all sitting at the starting gate, ready to go," Doug Saathoff said.

The Hastings-area farmer has a new planter with new gadgets. But he hasn't been able to get in the field yet, when last year by this time he was halfway done planting corn.

He said, "Quit paying attention to the calendar right now and pay attention to the soil temp, make sure we do it right the first time."

Agronomists say that's the right call, because of the record cold.

UNL Extension Agronomist Mark Hinze said, "We're about 14 almost 15 degrees below normal."

Hinze said farmers need to forget what they've been taught.

"It's been a different year. We're writing a different textbook this year," he said.

2012 was a real page turner, with one record after the next in the books. Despite the drought, farmers like Doug Saathoff had good yields on irrigated acres. And they start 2013 with much needed rain.

Doug said, "Nice to see puddles at the end of the field, little water in the rows, something we haven't seen in a while."

That moisture will help greatly, but likely isn't enough.

Hinze said, "Right now we have sufficient moisture to get the crop established but after it's established, I think we'll run out right away because we don't have much in the second or third foot."

Weather has also delayed fertilizer applications. But Hinze says that's a secondary concern.

"Get your seed planted. Get it in the ground. We'll take care of the other things later," the agronomist said.

Spring weather arrives late, but never too late for Doug to use his new planter for the first time.

Saathoff said, "We've got plenty of time. We'll get it done. Once we get going, it'll go pretty fast."

According to USDA reports, statistically speaking, no corn has been planted in Nebraska. 13 percent of the crop had been planted last year at this time. Nationally, only four percent of the corn has been planted. That's down from 26 percent last year.

Hinze, the extension agronomist cautions farmers not to plant too shallow. They may get more moisture, but could get rootless corn.

But as long as corn is planted by about May 10, the long term outlook is good.