With the snow long gone and warmer temperatures for most of the spring so far, Iowa farmers have been anxious to start putting corn seeds into the ground. State Ag Secretary, Bill Northey, says there hasn’t been a lot of planting yet, but he expects things to start picking up.
“We still can get some cold weather this time of year, we saw some frost last week in part of the state, but I think there’ll be some corn go in this week. I think folks are kind of not getting into too much of a hurry, but the ground is ready and it’s hard not to go,” Northey says. Some farmers may be waiting until midweek to get started.
He says you can’t plant before April 11th to be able to get failed planting coverage if you have to replant. Farming has become more precise with GPS systems guiding the tractors through the fields, and that leads to fuel savings. But Northey says higher fuel prices are still felt on the farm.
“We can still buy four to six gallons an acre of fuel out there in some cases, and if you start multiplying five-gallons-an-acre times four-dollars-a-gallon, than it dollars up when you see the price come up,” Northey says. “So it has an impact. Right now that’s a small part of our input costs when you look at seed and fertilizer and the other costs of taking care of that ground…but it’s still like everything else, it adds up and it does make a difference.”
Northey says the mood is good as farmers enter the planting season and see the commodity prices. “Lately we’ve actually seen the bean prices slip up a little higher than what the corn prices are for fall. So, I’m sure we have a few folks trying to decide on those last acres, whether they will go ahead and plant beans or corn,” Northey says.
“Right now if the ground is fit they will probably go ahead and plant corn. But if those bean prices are a little bit better, we may have a few folks leaning some of that direction based on soybean prices for fall which are still over 13-dollars a bushel.” Northey says the high commodity prices are nice, but you always have to keep a watch on the market forces.
“Certainly if China would decide to buy more from South America or decide to buy less overall, that would have some impact on these markets as well. And that worldwide economy and demand on livestock products affects how much livestock is produced and therefore how much corn and soybean meal they use. There’s plenty of things to be watching for, at the same token, we’ve certainly has a nice run here of decent prices,” Northey says.
Northey farms near Spirit Lake.