Farmers in Louisiana took advantage of warm weather to get an early start on their corn planting. Planting began back in February, and LSU AgCenter corn specialist John Kruse said about 35 percent of the crop has been planted.
“Some of the corn is actually up now, and you can just start to see it,” Kruse said.
Recent wet weather has slowed planting, but Kruse believes growers will get the rest of the crop planted well within the recommended planting window.
Growers typically see better yields the earlier they get their corn in the ground.
“Some of the advantages in planting corn early include better soil moisture for more of the year,” Kruse said. “Also, insect pressure builds the later you get in the year.”
Kruse expects Louisiana farmers to plant around 600,000 acres of corn – up slightly from last year, when acreage was 570,000.
Prices, however, fell a little over the past year. Growers were getting around $6.50 a bushel in 2011, but this year prices are closer to $5.75 to $6 a bushel. Farmers also are anticipating higher costs for fuel and fertilizer.
Kruse says that won’t keep farmers away from corn. “When producers look at their input costs and look at what they can get for some alternative crops, corn still looks pretty attractive.”
As the season progresses, farmers will need to watch out for insects, particularly cutworms.
Farmers usually “burn down” their fields using herbicides to remove weeds four to six weeks before planting. This also helps to eliminate insects.
“With all the rainy weather we had in late winter and early spring, burn down didn’t get done in many places as timely as our producers would have liked it to be.”
So insects like cutworms may have remained in the fields. Farmers can control these insects with insecticides if they know they are in their fields.
Early planting will likely push the corn harvest up a couple of weeks. Kruse says corn harvesters may start cutting the crop in late July.