Late start for corn season may not affect final product
Rain and cold pushed back the corn planting season by as much as two to three weeks in some parts of the state, but the crop appears to be on track for a great year, according to farmers interviewed by the Colorado Corn Growers Association.
"The corn is behind, but it's catching up," said Randy Hines of Delta. "We typically would be waist high by mid-July and we are 6 to 18 inches. We just need some heat."
With high temperatures forecast throughout the state coming up, it could be just the right recipe for a solid season.
The early wet temperatures did have an impact on some farmers who decided to plant dryland corn--or corn acres that are not irrigated--which can be quite a risky venture with Colorado's finicky weather patterns.
Steve Scott of Burlington said more farmers in his area are also taking the risk on dryland corn. "Dryland corn is all about the month of August," he said. "We get about 8.7 additional bushels per acre for every inch of rain in August."
On the western slope, many farmers are switching from planting dry beans to corn, due to price and a bad season last year, as many acres of beans were hailed out, Hines said.
Colorado is like most of the nation with about 99 percent of the corn planted in the state planted for field corn--or corn that is used for livestock feed, ethanol production and other products. Only about 1 percent is "sweet" corn, the corn people eat at Fourth of July parties.
While the early wet weather may have pushed back the season, it doesn't look like the occasional violent hailstorms on the eastern plains have caused permanent problems "Mostly the hail has only had a little cosmetic damage to the corn. The wheat, on the other hand, is another story. It's been hard on the wheat," Scott said.
In the southeastern part of the state, the dry conditions also delayed planting a bit. Doug Melcher of Holly said, "We've only had a few scattered storms so it takes longer to get the ground ready."
Throughout the state, a consistent aspect to the planting this year is the popularity of high-tech corn hybrid varieties that are built to withstand pests and help farmers save money and protect the environment by reducing pesticide use on crops.
"The corn produced is in a lot better condition throughout the growing season," said Weathers. "Farmers have a lot better control over their crops."
Charles Bartlett of Merino couldn't agree more and said it even more concisely, "We save money and there's less spraying. It's a win for everyone."