With some Midwest farmers wondering if the bitter cold temperatures will ever give way to the approaching spring season, the very first of the U.S. 2019 corn crop is already out of the ground in Texas.
Though the Lone Star state’s farmers planted almost 2.24 million acres of corn in 2017, delayed planting is threatening more cotton and less corn acres, this year.
With an average yield of 140 bushels per acre, Texas farmers produced more than 314 million bushels of corn in 2017.
In central Texas (the Upper Gulf Coast), area farms have been inundated with rain causing this year’s corn planting pace to fall way behind.
Corey Bowen, a Wharton County Extension agent in southeast Texas, says that his area has been wet for six months.
“Normally, we would be half done with corn planting by now. But because of the rain, our soils are saturated. Plus, we just received between 2.00 and 5.00 inches of rain on Tuesday of last week. So very little corn has been planted,” Bowen says.
The Upper Gulf Coast farmers can start planting corn on Valentine’s Day through the month of March.
“Our average annual rainfall is 42.00 inches, but since Labor Day we have recorded 30.00 inches of rain. And the corn that has already been planted and emerged doesn’t look good,” Bowen says.
MORE COTTON, LESS CORN
In Wharton County, corn acreage hit 85,000 in 2016, dropped to 69,000 a year ago, and Bowen sees this wet planting season threatening acres again.
“Farmers are getting beaten up. They are tired of it,” Bowen says.
While central Texas is wet, farther south, Jim Sugarek, a Beeville, Texas, farmer has 70% of his 1,600 acres of corn planted.
This southern Texas farmer says that he is happy about this year’s planting season, so far.
In fact, Sugarek has some corn that has already emerged, standing about 3 inches tall.
“Quite a few of my neighbors are wrapping up corn planting. I have just 30% left. I start planting around February 20 and finish in the first week of March,” Sugarek says.
Some corn in the Texas Valley region, planted in January, is already standing knee-high.
For Sugarek, he hopes to harvest his corn in mid-July, if needed rains fall throughout April, May, and June.
“I farm land that is in a drier climate. We have land that goes into the south Texas brush country. And I haven’t seen much rain fall around here. But I will say, more rain has fallen this year than we’ve ever seen. That is a blessing for this part of the world,” Sugarek says.
The Beeville farmer’s on-farm corn average is 100 bushels per acre.
“We’ve had 130 and 140 bushel corn a few times, but that’s the top end. Our problem is that in May and June we rarely cool down at night below 82°F. So that crop doesn’t have a chance to recuperate. That is a limiting factor on yield,” Sugarek says.
“This year, we’ve had an abnormally wet fall, with a lot of fieldwork that didn’t get done. So, this winter’s fieldwork has been tough. But when you farm around here, you remain thankful for rains,” Sugarek says. The rains fix a lot of planting mistakes.”
“Overall, corn planting is going well for this part of the world. I’ll decide on marketing my crop later. “You go one hour north of me and those soils are saturated.”
“As far as the farm markets go, they are pretty much up in the air, considering the trade turmoil that we are in. A lot of people, including myself, are hesitant to market crops. It won’t take much to get the markets to move heavily one way or the other. So, I don’t know anybody that is doing too much grain marketing (selling), right now,” Sugarek says.
Sugarek says that rainfalls that have kept him out of the fields this week, and he is scouting for wild hog damage to the corn that has emerged.
“When you farm on the edge of the Texas brush, hog damage is a constant problem. So, today, my helicopter pilot is out surveying the damage. It’s a nightmare,” Sugarek.
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