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Archive for Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Farmers welcome recent rains

Higher corn prices expected to boost plantings in county

April 4, 2007

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Douglas County farmers could use a couple weeks or so of nice, dry weather.

It's time to get the corn in the ground.

"If they could get started April 15th, that would be plenty of time," said Bill Wood, the county's agriculture agent for K-State Research and Extension. "Even if it's still wet and they didn't plant until May 1st, and then (they could) plant in two weeks, farmers would be happy."

Farmers would be particularly happy if corn prices could keep up the surge from late last year, which had the plentiful county crop selling for as much as $4 a bushel.

That's up from the usual $2.50 or $3 that the feed crop typically commands, Wood said.

At the average yield of 100 bushels an acre on the county's long-term average of 25,000 acres a year, that could be another $2.5 million taking root in the pockets of agriculture folks in the area.

"When you jump up a dollar and a half, it's like, 'Whoa! Let's plant more corn,'" Wood said. "I wouldn't doubt that our plantings will be up, like in a lot of other places - probably at least a 10 percent increase in corn, maybe more."

Driving the additional interest, in particular, is demand for the source material for producing alternative fuels.

Recent rains may have kept farmers out of the fields Tuesday - there's standing water everywhere, Wood said after touring the county - but the moisture is boosting the outlook for many crops.

A rundown:

¢ Wheat: While wheat remains a minor crop in the county - at about 8,000 acres a year, it lags behind soybeans, hay and corn - the crop is looking "great," Wood said. Wheat plants are starting to grow after being dormant through winter, and the moisture is helping the plants produce the leaves that will be vital for producing high-quality and plentiful grain.

¢ Hay: Many farmers recently fertilized their 39,000 acres or so of brome, fescue, alfalfa and native grasses, which will be used for grazing or stored for feed.

The rain only helps. "Farmers are smiling right now," Wood said.

¢ Soybeans: Planting of beans may be down a little bit this year, as farmers increasingly opt for corn, but the moisture should bode well for the county's crop, which averages 39,000 acres. "They need water to grow, too," Wood said.

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