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Archive for Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Farmers’ interest in corn growing

Demand for ethanol boosting price for crop to highest level in a decade

December 20, 2006

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With corn prices rising, more area farmers are making plans to plant corn this spring.

Bill Wood, agriculture agent for K-State Research & Extension in Douglas County, said the increased market interest was becoming increasingly difficult for farmers to ignore.

With prices still high for petroleum-based fuels, companies are busy putting up new ethanol plants, he said. And because ethanol is made from corn, prices for the grain are continuing to climb - past $3 per bushel, the highest level in more than a decade.

"That's a good thing for our farmers," Wood said.

Corn already is the county's biggest crop. Last year, farmers harvested nearly 3 million bushels on 27,500 acres, enough to bring in $5.6 million.

Soybeans actually took up more space in 2005 - 37,100 acres were harvested - but produced 1.4 million bushels, enough for $7.7 million.

Farmers often rotate the two crops, by planting beans on a particular field one year and then corn the next. The switch helps limit weeds, control insects and take advantage of natural fertilization, as soybeans produce nitrogen that can be used by corn a year later.

Now, with corn prices growing, more farmers should be more likely to opt for corn, Wood said, and therefore bring the county's beans-to-corn ratio closer to 50-50.

"That's not a bad idea," he said.

Wheat likely will remain a relatively small portion of the county's crop lineup next year, Wood said.

A year ago wheat accounted for about $500,000 in revenue, he said.

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