April showers mean time to plant corn in Kansas has arrived.
U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts that farmers across the country will plant around 91.7 million acres of corn this year, down from 95.37 million acres last year. In Kansas, the USDA predicts 4.4 million acres will be planted, up 2 percent from the previous year, but it’s too early to tell if that number will hold.
Farmers in Marion County will work through spring to plant corn, although only a few have started, waiting for spring-like temperatures to finally return to the Midwest, Marion Cooperative Grain and Supply manager Mike Thomas said.
“Ground temperatures have some waiting,” he said. “The temperature is only around 44 degrees right now and needs to be about 55 or 56 degrees to grow.”
He said many are planting, or planning to plant, drought-resistant varieties of corn. With a dry last few months and few rain chances in the forecast, farmers are worried there might not be enough moisture in the ground for the seed to grow, Thomas said.
“We really would like to see it rain, and I think that after a good rain you’ll see more people out planting,” he said.
Dry weather could hurt local wheat crops, but Thomas said wheat can handle dry weather better than corn can, even this early in its growing stage.
“It looks pretty good, but you don’t have too drive to far west to find a bunch that doesn’t,” he said. “I don’t know if frost got it or lack of moisture but it doesn’t look good, but ours here could use the rain too.”
Brian Nichols, agronomist for Cooperative Grain and Supply of Hillsboro, said the eastern portion of the county’s wheat crop looks to be in good condition, but the west seems to not have faired the winter as well.
“They didn’t get the moisture the eastern portion of the county did, so there was a bit of winter kill because the wheat could not get established,” Nichols said.
He said with current wheat projections, the county look to be on track for an average, or maybe slightly above average, harvest but it’s still too early to tell.
Nichols estimates 20 to 25 percent of Marion County farmers have begun planting corn, with most farmers waiting to see what Mother Nature will bring.
“Many are holding out for rain,” he said. “Hopefully we get some soon.”
There is still plenty of time left for farmers to plant, Nichols said.