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Common Ground
Farm Credit Services of America Blog

Reports From the Ground: 2015 Planting Season

by FCSAmerica Staff Reports | Apr 27, 2015

While farmers have been planting in fits and starts in pockets of FCSAmerica’s territory, the growing season is expected to start in earnest this week. Across the region, farmers are looking at several days of warm, dry weather -- ideal for catching up on planting after a slow start to the 2015 growing season. Here’s a look at what is happening this season across our territory:

PLANTING INTENTIONS

No surprises here. The majority of fields are being planted in corn. But soybeans could gain some ground as farmers look for cost savings. In South Dakota, some western-area farmers are planting more spring wheat and oats. Farmers in the McCook area of Nebraska suffered winter kill in their winter wheat fields and are planting more milo.

BREAK-EVENS

While this number is producer dependent, it’s safe to say that most farmers are going into the fields this spring bracing for a challenging year. Current grain prices are below most producers’ break-evens. In west-central Nebraska, break-evens for corn range from $3.70 to $4.25. For soybeans, producers’ break-evens vary from $8.50 to $9.50. In Iowa, producers generally cite break-evens in the $4 range for corn and $9 for soybeans. As a general rule, corn prices need to climb at least 50 cents and soybeans by a $1 to avoid  losses in the 2015 growing season.

PLANTING CONDITIONS

Iowa farmers enter the growing season with good moisture in the subsoil. Planting picked up in recent days in much of western Iowa. A swath of eastern Iowa still had soil temperatures below 50 degrees on  Sunday, and farmers were itching to get started this week on their planting. The USDA reported today that 14 percent of Iowa’s corn was in the ground compared to an average of 24 percent in past years.

Corn planting started in northeast Nebraska last week and continued through the weekend. Moisture conditions in the area were considered ideal. West-central farmers were stalled by cooler ground temperatures. Nebraska farmers have about 16 percent of their corn crop planted – slightly below the average of 17 percent for this point in the planting season.

South Dakota farmers in the Yankton and Sioux City area have benefitted from spring rains. But those farming to the north and west are looking at dry conditions. Planting has progressed at a good clip. Sixteen percent of the corn crop is planted, nearly double the 9 percent average for this time of year.

In Wyoming, malt barley planted in early April is in good condition. Sugar beets last week were 70 percent planted. Spring started off dry, but rains – and snow – arrived in April to provide much needed moisture.

SPRING CALVING

Weather conditions were nearly ideal in both Wyoming and west-central Nebraska. Cow calving and lambing went well, with high survival rates across the region. 

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