From the Ground Up - Planting Corn

It’s the middle of March and that means most Brazos Valley corn farmers have their 2013 corn crop in the ground and were able to benefit from the recent rain.

“This year we started February twenty fourth and by the calendar that’s usually the right time for us to start. Sometimes we will start a little earlier around the twentieth, but usually no earlier than that.”

Corn is a major crop for Larry Hoelscher, Jr., who farms in Westphalia.

“Insurance usually has April fifteenth, so we usually can’t plant anything after that, but in our mind we probably want March tenth to the fifteenth to be the last day if all possible.”

Normally, the earlier you can get corn planted, the more likely it is that your crop will avoid weather extremes at a crucial time.

“The heat, and the amount of rainfall that we get, and that’s why you want to get it in earlier because you have a better chance of catching the rainfall and maybe it’s maturing and everything before that sets in and pollinates before it gets so hot.”

Planting corn early does carry some risk.

“Our biggest risk is probably a freeze once it comes up or a heavy frost and you know that’s a calculated risk too, but if you can get two inches of rainfall on that plant by planting it early it’s usually more beneficial. I mean if you look over time, usually your earliest planted crop does you the best.”

The drought in the major corn producing states in 2012 spawned another risk for this year. The usual amount of seed corn wasn’t produced.

“With corn or grain and milo the biggest fear this year is the lack of seed, planting seed, and you know where years before you always know well if I have to go replant a spot of two or kind of spot in some fields, I can go pick up some more seed. With the shortage we have now, we really don’t have a plan B.”

For Larry Hoelscher, 2013’s big gamble is underway. I’m Kailey Carey, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, From The Ground Up.