Local grain farmers say plantings off to a good start

2014-06-17T06:00:00Z 2014-06-17T23:16:07Z Local grain farmers say plantings off to a good startMelanie Csepiga Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
June 17, 2014 6:00 am  • 

Farm fields are greening up as young corn and beans shoot upward in the beginning of a growing season viewed with optimism after a late start for some local grain farmers.

"It's growing very well. We had nice windows of opportunity to get it planted," said Chris Birkey, a grain and hog farmer in Porter County's Morgan Township.

Lowell area farmer Hank Wunderink said his corn may have been planted a couple of weeks later, but "the growth is getting close to normal." Most crop reports have been positive, he said.

Wunderink said he is still cultivating and spraying some corn. He said he is spraying ditches for weeds and catching up on mowing now.

Generally, the start to plant date is around April 15. Corn will not germinate until the soil is 50 degrees at seed depth, so coming out from under winter's deep freeze delayed planting for some.

Birkey said the periodic precipitation has been helpful. "We've been very fortunate with rain," he said.

The summer weather will make a big difference, Birkey said. Cooler temperatures will translate to a later grain harvest.

In March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture projected a national corn crop of nearly 14 billion bushels from 92 million acres with an average yield of 165 bushels an acre, which would mark an all-time record high corn yield.

More acres in soybeans were predicted by the USDA and higher yields are expected.

With an abundance of corn and competition from Brazil corn exports, the USDA projected corn prices in the U.S. would be down about 60 cents a bushel from last year's growing season.

With increased production, soybeans are also projected to go down by nearly $3 a bushel from last year's midpoint.

Last year, corn averaged $6.15 a bushel and soybeans averaged $14.07, according to the University of Illinois.

"We are actually importing beans from South America for chicken farmers in the south. We always import a bit, but this year is a bit more," Wunderink said. He said the corn and beans price fluctuations may offset each other.

Birkey said grain prices had run up, but have moderated. "You manage your inputs, your expenses, as best you can," he said.

Birkey said he cannot make any predictions.

"I've been farming 23 years. God's provided each year," Birkey said.

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