Dry Land Corn Planting Decisions

With a group of Texas legislators again trying to bring destination casinos to the state of Texas, gambling has been alive and well, year and year out, for years on our local farms. Brazos Valley farmers are in the middle of the window for planting corn, and the earlier they plant the more likely they’ll be able to take advantage of cooler temperatures, but the drought complicates a planting strategy. Joe Brown has more in this week’s From The Ground Up.

"The question of irrigated versus dry land, a lot of us, myself included, made the decision back in ’08, when the spigot got turned of the middle of May, we didn’t see much moisture past that point, and we went into the fall relatively dry, that without a good soil profile of moisture we didn’t really feel like dry land corn – corn is such a water user, such a big consumer of water, in order to make even a moderate yield, I made the decision back in the fall to go ahead and try to go with a wheat crop, versus a dry land corn crop."

Lee Denena farms in the Brazos River bottom.

"Corn itself is a high nitrogen user, and back in the fall when we were looking at, we start thinking about what we’re going to do the next year about three quarters of the way through the current year, and fertilizer prices were still outrageous. "

Corn is expensive to grow, so there’s a lot at risk.

"I started looking for alternative crops to corn because corn, a dry land corn crop, if you’re going to do it right, you got to put a lot of it into it up front, and if it turned out to be dry, it’s a lost cause."

Denena’s switch from a dry land corn/cotton rotation to a wheat/cotton rotation meant he planted wheat last fall.

"My thinking behind that was that we normally get, if we’re going to be in a dry situation we still normally get pretty decent moisture in the winter months. That hasn’t been the case, but I felt like if we’re in a dry cycle we still would probably pick up some rain in February, March, April, when wheat is needing it the most to make a yield."

The dice have already started to roll with our local farmers playing high stakes against Mother Nature. I’m Joe Brown, looking at Brazos Valley Agriculture, From The Ground Up.

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