U.S. Grains Council Releases Video On U.S. Corn Planting Progress

The first of three U.S. Grains Council (USGC) videos chronicling the 2015 U.S. corn growing season is now available online, highlighting planting conditions on farms in Iowa, Minnesota and Texas.

The story of the 2015 U.S. corn crop began with widespread cool temperatures across the U.S. Corn Belt that delayed planting.

“It was not a typical year for corn planting,” said Texas farmer Chad Wetzel. “Our corn is only ankle tall in May and was actually planted a month later than we would like.”

Even though most U.S. corn farmers got into the field later than normal, they were able to plant most of their fields by June 1. Despite this, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report from July 10 projected the 2015 U.S. corn crop to be a bountiful 343 million metric tons (13.5 billion bushels).

This is due in part to biotech traits, which have allowed U.S. corn with shorter growing seasons to achieve greater yields.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in yields, especially in the early season genetics we use up here,” said Minnesota farmer Gary Purath. “Our yields are 30 to 40 bushels better than they were 30 years ago.”

Iowa farmer Kurt Hora agrees that better seed technology has improved U.S. farmers’ ability to manage the weather and other outside factors.

“We raise mostly biotech corn,” Hora said. “By doing this, we are trying to utilize the traits to keep insects and diseases out of the corn we are raising. We are able to use fewer herbicides and pesticides because of the biotech traits we are purchasing.”

Purath echoed Hora’s statement and commented on increases in yields that he has experienced since starting to purchase corn seed that contained biotech traits.

“I think the whole science of genetics has been really impressive,” Purath said. “There is probably a 50-year flat line where you would get four to five bushels for every inch of rain. Now that has risen to eight to 12 bushels per inch of rain. So that’s the change that’s happened in the last 20 years.”

Even though farmers try to manage around weather, it will still be the ultimate factor in determining if the United States meets its potential yield.

The next installment of this video series, available in late summer, will revisit these farmers to see how their crops are growing.