As west-central Missouri farmers are dealing with the cards they’ve been dealt this year, Mother Nature has finally cooperated enough to allow for a big dent in planting progress this past week. Adam Casner, who farms in Carroll County, Mo., finished planting his corn acres on Sunday.
“We're calling corn 100% planted right now,” he said. “It's 100% of the acres we can cover after the flood. We still have maybe 400 acres that should have gone to corn that still has water over it or conditions weren't right to be able to get corn planted on it, so we're looking at transitioning those acres into soybeans.”
Casner isn’t the only Missouri farmer making major headway on corn planting last week. USDA’s latest crop progress report shows Missouri farmers have 45% of the corn planted as of Sunday, a 29 percentage point jump from the previous week. Despite major progress, planting is still delayed in the Show-Me state, as USDA’s statistics show 55% is the average pace this time of year.
“We're still behind,” he said. “We normally like to be planting soybeans by now. We like to be planting corn by April 7, and I think it was the April, 21 when we started planting corn, so, we’re still behind.”
Casner isn’t alone. As Missouri farmers face flood water still standing in fields combined with rains in the 10-day forecast, more farmers are looking at in-season acreage switches. Casner said he’s forced to switch about 30 percent of his corn acres to soybeans this season, a move he isn’t thrilled about.
“I can't get real fired up to plant $7 soybeans,” said Casner. “That’s a decision factor here, as well, and why we worked so hard to get corn in the ground.”
Casner said the fact he and other area farmers are in some of their fields at all this year is remarkable, considering Casner was one of the many farmers in the Missouri River Bottoms lining the levee with sandbags only a month ago.
“We started throwing sandbags on the levee around March 26, and continued through the first week of April,” he said. “We started pumping the water off of some of our fields April 3, and so far, we have 1100 hours on those motors, pumping water out of here.”
Not only did Casner have to worry about pumping water, but he had several farms under several inches of corn stalks and debris that floated up with flood waters. Today, many areas still have some fields under water; fields that may not get planted at all this year. One area farmer said nearly 30 percent of his acres probably won’t get planted this year due to lingering flood water issues.
The curveballs from Mother Nature have not only kept farmers on their toes, but forced many to switch plans early in the season.
“Every decision has just been on the fly this year,” said Casner. “Plan A got thrown out of the window so early. It's just been a day-by-day deal."
With more rain in the forecast for the next 10 days, the Casners worked 33 hours straight to plant and work corn ground while they could. However, he knows with so much rain, unplanted ground may not be dry enough to plant until the middle of May. So, more in-season switches may be made by farmers, a move that could add more soybean acres to the mix.
While Casner and other area farmers were frustrated by record-high Missouri River levels, area farmers are thankful to be able to plant a crop this year.
“This has been a very rocky and very trying spring for us, and it's easy to catch myself getting frustrated at it, but at the end of the day, when you look at where we've come and where we've got to, we're blessed to get done what we've got done,” said Casner.