Nebraska Planting ProgressFarmers across the nation are hard at work getting their crops into the ground as we head into the final two weeks of May. The latest USDA weekly crop progress estimates from Monday showed progress being made for both corn and soybeans over the last two weeks. In Nebraska, farmers have also moved forward and are slightly ahead of neighboring states despite various weather-related factors, chief among them being last week’s cold temperatures and some rainfall.

By the numbers, for corn, as of May 18 Nebraska producers had 91 percent of their corn in the ground, versus 78 percent for the same date last year. This is slightly ahead of the five year average of 89 percent for the state for this date. For the total 18 states that the USDA reports these statistics, as of May 18, the nation’s farmers had 73 percent of corn planted, versus 65 percent at this date in 2013. This is only 3 percent short of the overall five year average for this time of 76 percent. Overall, these numbers show that planting progress for corn is once again keeping pace, despite the previous week’s weather delays.

For soybeans, Nebraska farmers have 65 percent planted, versus only 29 percent as of May 18, 2013. This is 10 percent higher than the five year average of 55 percent for the state. Overall numbers show slightly less progress, however, with 33 percent of soybeans in the ground, versus 21 percent in 2013. The overall average is 38 percent by this time over the past five years.

Planting progress only shows half the story, however, and the USDA also reported the percentages of emergence for both corn and soybeans in this week’s numbers. For Nebraska corn, the report showed 43 percent emergence, up substantially from the previous week’s 18 percent, and only slightly behind the NE corn emergence average of 45 percent. Overall, corn emergence was at 34 percent. While this is a significant gain from the previous week’s 18 percent emergence, it is still lagging the five year average of 42 percent. Soybean emergence is close to the usual five year averages, with Nebraska reporting 13 percent emergence and overall numbers reporting 9 percent. The averages are 14 and 11 percent, respectively.

After last week’s low temperatures, where many parts of the state saw frost on three consecutive nights, farmers are concerned that their newly planted crops were affected, and are now in the process of assessing whether or not they will have to replant. Either way, crop growth and development was hampered by the cold temperatures. Farmers concerned with potential damage need to do some investigating. The University of Nebraska Lincoln CropWatch analysts advise the following:

To determine the need for replanting, first estimate stands. Then, estimate yield potential. The most important factor in deciding whether to replant is to calculate expected yield with the current stand versus what you could potentially have if you replanted. Lastly, estimate replanting costs.  Consider costs of tillage, seed, fuel, additional pesticides, and labor. Consider also that delayed planting certainly means higher grain moisture at harvest and the possibility of fall frosts before physiological maturity. You may want to consider planting a shorter season hybrid seed. Caution: Before replanting, contact your crop insurance agent, Farm Service Agency, and others with an interest in your crop.

The weather forecast for the coming week predicts near to above normal rainfall for a large portion of the Midwest, which could add more delays to the last stretch of planting. However, warmer temperatures will help alleviate potential delays to a certain extent. If you have planting concerns or questions about your farmland, feel free to contact us at United Farm and Ranch Management.

United Farm and Ranch Management (UFARM) is a Nebraska-based company devoted to meeting landowners’ needs. 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.  Find out more at


“Time to Dig In and Assess Need for Replanting Corn.” Cropwatch. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 09 May 2014. Web. 20 May 2014.
“Corn and Soybean Planting Maps.” Agweb. Farm Journal. 19 May 2014. Web. 20 May 2014.

Center PivotAs with any industry, technology is changing the way farmers manage nearly every aspect of their farming operations. New developments in technology are making it possible for farmers to be more productive, from the seeds they put into the ground, to the machinery they use to plant and harvest their crops, to the data they obtain about their fields, to the ways they monitor and grow those crops. Keeping up to date on the latest technology in each of these areas is critical to staying ahead of the curve, and to caring for the land in the best way possible.

Some of the most innovative technological advances in agriculture are in the area of crop biotechnology. Scientists now understand more about seed genetics than ever before in history, and are creating highly specialized seeds that are able to perform in many varying types of fields with an astonishingly high degree of specificity. Faced with a growing world population, farmers in the US and around the world will need to double food production to meet the demand by 2050, according to United Nations figures and reported by Robert T. Fraley, executive vice president and chief technology officer for Monsanto Company.

Speaking to a group at a Farm Journal forum last year, Fraley explained how biotechnology and communication technology will converge to create even more remarkable innovations in the industry. “‘The farm tractor today has more computer power than the first spaceship that went to the moon,’ he said, explaining that DeKalb will launch a FieldScripts program in 2014 that will help farmers vary planting within 10-by-20-meter grids. The program will match the best seed and planting rate with zones on a farm.”

As Fraley reported and many producers can already attest, technological advances in machinery go hand in hand with the types of seeds that are being planted. Farmers are taking advantage of different software programs and GPS technology that work together to help them plot their fields, dividing them into specified groups based on characteristics such as soil type. These software programs also keep track of yields and many other types of data.

Aside from these innovations, farm machinery is also steadily advancing, making planting, spraying, and harvesting more efficient and accomplished with greater ease. For instance, farmers are now able to use direct injection sprayers that can apply different chemicals at variable rates. These sprayers eliminate the need to mix chemicals in a separate tank, thereby eliminating the need to clean the tanks. They also lessen exposure to the chemicals by the operator, and put less excess product on the ground. An in-cab control console allows the farmer to control the rates at which the chemical is applied.

Technological advances are also present in irrigation and drought management practices. Especially after 2012’s drought, farmers are focused on using their water resources as efficiently and economically as possible. They are taking advantage of software that monitors their pivots’ output and texts them when the pivot has completed its circle or has encountered a problem, saving time and money. Innovations that peek under the soil in the form of highly advanced soil moisture probes are increasingly being utilized by farmers to ensure that their crops are getting the right amount of moisture at the correct depth and at the right time during the plant’s growth cycle. These moisture probes are able to communicate directly to a computer or smartphone, so that producers can stay on top of their crop’s progress at all times and from any location. Another developing irrigation technology are variable rate pivots that can be programmed to water less or more based on different aspects of the field.

Today’s advancing farm technology makes it an exciting time to be in agriculture, and farmers are doing important work by using it to grow the crops that feed their families and the world.  Our UFARM managers understand the importance of this emerging technology and can help landowners determine what kinds of technology are valuable to have on their farm.

Sources: (Thompson, Boyce. “Fraley: Technology Will Be Key to Feeding the World Population.”Farm Journal. 5 Dec. 2013. Web. 6 Feb. 2014.)