Planting ahead of schedule

WYOBRASKA – It’s spring – flowers are blooming, there’s a nip in the air in the mornings that warms throughout the day and farmers are hard at it in the fields.

Planting is in full swing and seed sales are up and crop rotations remain the same despite some changes.

“Our bean acres are up this year,” said Chris Culek, Crop Advisor at Simplot. “Our corn acres started out strong, but I think we’re going to be down.”

Culek said they were short of bean seed. 

“They sold out quick,” Culek said. “With the commodity prices, it seems like guys have changed some rotations going from corn to beans.”

Scott Popp, Crop Advisor at Marker Ag said, “Everything’s going. We’re ahead of the curve probably. It’s been a little nicer spring than we’ve had in the past several years. Everything’s rolling well.”

The better than average weather has contributed to the planting season being ahead of schedule.

Casey Jagers, Territory Manager at Pioneer Seeds, said, “We’re sitting pretty good. I think we’re progressing a little ahead of where we were last year.”

Beet producers are on pace with one of the area’s staple crops.

“The sugar beets are in the ground,” Culek said. “They’ve all been planted. In fact, we’ve got beets emerged. They’re looking good. We just need a good sugar market and a good year.”

“We’ll probably have some early run water that will help as we’re ahead of the game planting crops. It should be a positive,” said Popp.

“It definitely helped last year as far as moisture,” Jagers said. “We’re actually in really good shape considering what it has been in the past.”

Extra precipitation has also been a factor. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Weather Service, rainfall in Wyoming was between 75% and 85% of normal. For the year to date, the Cowboy state is running close to normal rainfall.

Mountain snowpack across the state is 85-95% of average as of the first of the month, with the greatest water equivalent in northwestern Wyoming at 105-115% of normal. Snow water equivalents in south-central to southwestern Wyoming are below 85% normal. 

That means near normal streamflow volumes from snowmelt are expected across the major drainage basins, ranging between 95-105% of normal, with the Upper North Platte basin at the top end of that scale. Reservoirs across the state are averaging 75-85% of capacity to start May, with storage ranging from 105% to 115%.

“The rain was very much needed. We were getting dry,” said Culek. “I would say at this point in time all of the beets are in the ground and if we would’ve caught this rain, I would say we were 75% done with corn. Our next thing that we’ll be working on is putting the beans in the ground and we’ll start that at the end of May.”

Farmers are doing business as usual despite many changes caused by the COVID-19 crisis. 

“We really haven’t changed that much. It hasn’t affected us because we’re essential workers. It’s how they’ve got us classified,” said Culek.

“We’re just being safe,” said Jagers. “Anything that we can do out of our offices at home that’s what we do. We wear a mask if we’re around customers that prefer that.”

Popp said, “Other than pricing and the overwhelming fear of what this is doing to our economy, farming is going well. It’s business as usual.”

Jagers said, “Just try to stay positive. Things will turn around as far as commodity prices at some point. We just hope sooner rather than later.”


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