Planting Intentions NebraskaTuesday, March 31st, farmers and market analysts focused their attention upon the USDA’s Prospective Plantings report for 2015, and while the numbers were within close distance of pre-report estimates, the amounts of prospective planting acres for corn and soybeans were farther apart than many had expected. Overall, the report numbers were bearish for new-crop corn, bullish for new-crop soybeans, and neutral for new-crop wheat.

Getting right to the numbers, the report estimated that farmers in the US will plant 89.2 million acres of corn during the upcoming planting season, a number that is down 2 percent from last year. Farmers will plant 84.6 million acres of soybeans, up 1 percent from one year ago. Overall, soybean acres will be higher in 21 of 31 major states for the crop.

As for the other portion of the report, Grain Stocks estimates showed 11 percent more corn supplies in the US versus that of one year ago, with 4.38 billion bushels stored. This is a 13 percent increase from one year ago. Consequently, corn stocks took a tumble yesterday, ending 18 cents lower by the end of the day.

Conversely, the report showed soybean stocks on hand to be at 1.333 billion bushels, slightly below the pre-report estimate of 1.341 billion bushels. As a result, soybeans ended up 3.75 cents yesterday.

For wheat, the report found quarterly wheat stocks at 1.124 billion bushels, also below the average pre-report estimate of 1.143 billion bushels. As for wheat acres, there were few surprises, with a report estimate of 13 million acres, compared to pre-report estimate of 13.24 million acres.

So, while the report wasn’t too far off expectations, farmers are still looking at lower corn prices for the foreseeable future. According to market analyst and broker Don Roose, “Tuesday’s grain stocks and numbers for both corn and soybeans, and their implications for overall acreage and stocks heading into the remainder of 2015, will be what takes charge of prices beyond planting season.” Next, the market’s attention will be focused on the weather, and at this point, it’s looking more favorable for the Midwest, and delayed in the mid-South and Delta.

“Right now, the outlook is for mild, below-normal temperatures in much of the Midwest, at least to start summer. That will benefit early crop development, though areas that are already on the dry side could stay that way, with rainfall prospects expected to be at or below normal through much of the summer in the Plains and Midwest,” says MDA Weather Services senior ag meteorologist Kyle Tapley.

Are you concerned about falling market prices, and wonder if your land is being put to its best use? Please feel free to contact a UFARM representative. We are glad to help.

Sources Consulted: Caldwell, Jeff. “Grain Stocks, Acreage Reports Send Corn Lower, Soybeans Higher.” Meredith Agrimedia. 31 Mar. 2015. Web. 01 Apr. 2015. Caldwell, Jeff. “Three Things to Watch This Morning, Wednesday, April 1st.” Meredith Agrimedia. 01 Apr. 2015. Web. 01 Apr. 2015. Newsom, Darin. “A Cliffhanger of Sorts.” DTN/The Progressive Farmer. DTN. 31 Mar. 2015. Web. 01 Apr. 2015.

Spring Crop Planting ConditionsIt may seem early to think about spring planting, and the Groundhog may have said 6 more weeks of winter, but that hasn’t stopped farmers from doing just that. Aside from starting to think about getting planting equipment out and geared up for April, farmers and climatologists know that spring weather patterns begin to emerge in January and February, and snow and weather events now can have a large impact on the conditions that they’ll meet in the fields. So, how are spring planting conditions looking for 2015?

According to the latest University of Nebraska Extension Ag Climate Update, most areas in the state reported below normal precipitation for the month. This is despite the much-needed moisture that came toward the end of the month with the snow that blanketed most of the area. January also saw some mighty temperature swings, where many areas of the state had below zero temps at the start of the month, and 60-70 degree temps by the fourth week.

While no one complains about 60 degree January weather, the end-of-the-month snow brought with it much-needed moisture to the state, and the snow cover does help to improve soil moisture and to protect winter crops from subsequent extreme cold temperatures.

As far as soil moisture across the state goes, the soil moisture at the beginning of February was higher than the January average. The soil temperature values were also higher. This is thanks mostly due to the end of January snowfall after the warm-up, which allowed the snow to fall on warmer ground. This, in turn, allowed the snow to soak into the ground and prevented surface run-off. Hopefully this extra moisture will prove beneficial come planting season.

The water levels of Lake McConaughy and mountain snowpack amounts play a crucial role when it comes to surface water across the state as well, according to the UNL Extension. The current water level at Lake McConaughy is at 75% of capacity, 14 feet higher than it was a year ago at this time. The inflows for this time of year are just above normal, and the snowpack percentage for Wyoming and Colorado are 70-110% of normal. The Extension notes that, while snowpack for March and April often has a greater impact, the lack of extreme dryness now is good moving into spring.

While the recent snowfall, lake levels and mountain snowpack all paint a more favorable picture as far as soil moisture goes, state climatologists still acknowledge that resources are still recovering from 2012’s drought. While gains have certainly been made, the state drought level monitor indicates that most of the state is still in the “abnormally dry” category.

Looking ahead, the long-term forecasts from the Climate Prediction Center predict a higher probability for above normal temperatures for the western half of the US for February, including Nebraska. The precipitation forecast, however, could go either way, and models are not telling us if we can expect greater rainfall amounts for the end of the winter and early spring or not.

Do you have questions about crop choices being made on your farm? Please don’t hesitate to contact a UFARM professional; we are happy to advise you.  UFARM offers a full range of Nebraska land management services, including real estate sales, rural property appraisals, consultations and crop insurance. UFARM has operated in Nebraska since the early 1930’s. Contact us today!


Sources consulted:  Williams, Tyler. “Nebraska Ag Climate Update.” University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cropwatch. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Ag Extension. 06 Feb. 2015. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.

Dry Winter Effects Nebraska farmlandIt’s planting season across the Midwest, and Nebraska farmers are eager to get their crops into the ground. A colder than normal winter with low levels of snowfall has left soil moisture at a premium, and while recent rainfall is a welcome remedy to lower than optimal soil moisture, the rain and cool temperatures are also doing their best to reign in planting across the area.

According to some, the rain that has fallen over Nebraska farmland the last week has been in areas which have needed it less, and as a result, the drought conditions in many parts of the Midwest remain. While this might allow planters to move, temperatures remain unseasonably cool, and many farmers are reluctant to plant when such low temperatures could affect the viability of the seed in the ground. This phenomenon, called “imbibitional chilling,” can occur when the seed takes in water that is too cold, and is damaged as a result.

Corn and soybeans are at greatest risk of being damaged due to cold soil temperatures within the first 24 to 48 hours of being planted, this according to University of Nebraska Lincoln CropWatch analysts. To reduce the risks of imbibitional chilling, they advise to plant when soil temperatures are in the high 40s, and the weather forecast for the subsequent 48 hours is higher.

CropWatch analysts also stress that while cooler soil temperatures are a threat to seed health, for soybeans, cold soil temperatures combined with high soil moisture content pose an even greater risk. “Cold soil delays the time between germination and emergence, but cold soil plus saturated soil conditions can substantively reduce soybean and corn emergence because soil-borne pathogens thrive in water-saturated soil.” Thus, they say, since the cold temperatures delay germination and emergence, the pathogens have more time to infect the seed, and as such, they highly advise the use of a fungicide seed treatment if planting in cold, wet conditions.

Area producers are also encouraged to assess the condition of their alfalfa fields after the cold, windy, and dry winter. Lack of snowfall left little protection for many alfalfa stands, and while some fields seem to have come through okay, other farmers are reported significant winter kill. Many may decide to turn these fields over to corn should the damage be too great.

After the late spring planting of 2013, farmers are anxious to be in the fields consistently, but it appears that the odds of having an “on time” corn crop across the area are shrinking. According to’s Jeff Caldwell, the average date after which planting is considered late is May 20th. That leaves producers roughly three weeks to get approximately 80% of the corn crop into the ground. “Of the 21 days left, history teaches us your chances of having even half of that time under conditions favorable for planting corn aren’t the greatest,” says Caldwell.

As usual, Mother Nature will have the last word. If temperatures ever decide to move into the normal May averages, and should periods of moisture hold off, great gains can and will be made in planting progress. Do you have unanswered questions regarding your planting progress, or your land and crops? Feel free to contact UFARM at your convenience.



“Factors Influencing Cold Stress in Corn and Soybeans.” CropWatch. University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension. 25 Apr 2014. Web. 01 May 2014.
Caldwell, Jeff. “The Shrinking Odds of An On-Time Corn Crop.” 30 Apr 2014. Web. 01 May 2014.