Corn is the first crop that gets planted in a new year, and around Valentine’s Day, farmers in our area who are going to plant corn begin to pay very close attention to the weather.
Most, by then, at least have a tentative plan as to what they will be growing this year. We talked with Lee Denena, a local farmer about the process he goes through to make those planting decisions.
“In my specific operation, I hold to a, I try not to change anything for my operation from the standpoint of, well, we’ve got high corn prices this year let’s go wall to wall corn. No. I still maintain a fifty-fifty rotation on my cultivated land. There’s so many agricultural benefits to it.”
Denena generally rotates grain and cotton.
“Grain would include small grains, winter grains, wheat. Beans I consider to be a grain even though it’s a legume, obviously, and it has a lot of similarities to cotton, not cost of production, but methods of production, types of herbicides we can use. A lot of these factors, a lot of the things that determine what I’m going to plant have to do with herbicide programs, insecticide programs.”
If Denena is due to plant grain on a piece of land, he will look at what his alternatives are.
“If beans are at fourteen and corn has backed itself out of competitiveness, I certainly look to take some of those grain acres and move them to beans, absolutely.”
Sometimes it’s hard to get out of your comfort zone.
“This bottom can grow anything, and it’s just a matter of some of us farmers maybe haven’t, and I put myself in this category, where we’ve gotten so used to growing cotton and corn, and haven’t really stretched out and learned and reminded ourselves of what all can be done out here.”
And often the older you are, the harder it is to change.
“You’ve just got to explain to everybody that it’s economics. Economics drives it all.”