News & Events
Overall, U.S. farmers have had a positive start to the corn, sorghum and barley growing seasons. Weather patterns show favorable conditions throughout the summer and continuing into harvest for most of the country.
El Niño is partially responsible. El Niño is a large-scale, ocean-atmosphere climate interaction. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the phenomenon begins with a periodic warming of sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific and then affects weather across the United States.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports indicate 92 percent of the corn crop was planted by the end of May, which is slightly higher than the 5-year average. The end of June reports show the corn crop just entering the silking stage with 68 percent in excellent or good condition.
Corn acreage is estimated at 88.897 million acres planted (35.9 million hectares), which translates to an estimated total corn supply of 14.8 billion bushels (376 million metric tons). This is about 2 percent lower from the previous year.
North Dakota barley farmer Mark Seastrand said his barley fields are off to a great start. “Conditions were ideal at planting time in mid-May, and timely rain has helped to kick off the growing season,” he said. “We’re cautiously optimistic about this year’s crop.”
Seastrand has a new addition to his farm this year – a newly released variety of barley, Genesis, developed by North Dakota State University. This variety will be harvested for seed. While it is cared for the same as other varieties he is growing, there are differences at planting and through the growth stages.
Adam Baldwin, who farms in central Kansas, said although he hasn’t planted his grain sorghum yet, he’s looking forward to a successful growing season thanks to much needed moisture that he received late in the spring.
“We’re set up to have a really good crop this year,” he said. “Although we’re getting in the field later than we planned, planting later is typically better for the crop.”
Corn planting dates varied this spring depending on soil moisture and temperature, both of which are critical for proper germination. Information from Iowa State University’s extension and outreach office indicates corn planting in Iowa during a typical year can take place any time from early April to mid-May, depending on the location.
The February issue of Grain News included updates on this year’s outlook for the U.S. grain planting, growing and harvest seasons with three producers: Greg Alber, corn farmer from Iowa; Adam Baldwin, sorghum farmer from Kansas; and Mark Seastrand, barley farmer from North Dakota. This issue checks in with these farmers to learn how their crops are progressing.
Biotechnology is a critical tool used by U.S. corn farmers to produce a safe, high-yielding, quality crop in varying growing conditions while reducing the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Still, the genetic quality, diversity and specificity in a bag of corn seed begins with a conventional breeding program that develops germplasm that is specific for the soil and environment where it is intended to grow.
Sorghum grows throughout the world in wide-ranging environments and growing conditions. This high level of variety provides a broad genetic base from which researchers can develop desirable traits quickly and effectively.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, are making their way into precision agriculture as a valuable tool for monitoring crop health. While this technology is heavily used for agriculture in some areas of the world, such as Japan, drones in agriculture are relatively new in the United States.