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A Time to Plant: Missouri Farmers Ahead of Schedule for Corn Planting

Nora Faris

For some Missouri farmers, corn planting season is already over.

According to this week’s United States Department of Agriculture Crop Progress Report, Missouri currently has more of its corn acreage planted than any other state. The report said Missouri farmers have already planted 58 percent of the state’s corn acreage. At the same time last year, only 7 percent of the state’s corn crop was in the ground.

On average over the past five years, Missouri farmers have had about a fifth of their corn crops planted by mid-April, according to the USDA.

Shawn McEwen, a farmer from Shelby County, said he finished planting all of his corn last week.

“We’re way ahead of last year,” said McEwen. “I think we started planting last year at the time we finished this year.”

McEwen said he usually starts planting corn in mid-April and is finished by the beginning of May.

“The spring months have been below average for rainfall, so once we started to get some warm, sunny days to dry out the soil, farmers were able to have a lot of days that they could plant,” said Max Glover, MU Extension agronomy specialist.

Glover said early planting benefits farmers when the weather cooperates. However, he said volatile weather in early spring can sometimes threaten yields. If a crop is exposed to extreme cold or moisture at the start of the growing cycle, seeds may not germinate, diminishing yields on affected acres.

“One thing that farmers think about when they plant early is how likely it might be that they will have to replant as a result of cool or wet weather conditions,” said Glover. “That’s something that might cause some to delay planting until late April or early May.”

Glover said an unusually wet spring posed a challenge to Missouri farmers during last year’s planting season.

“People were a little bit more willing to take a risk and plant early this year, I think somewhat because of what happened last year,” said Glover.

McEwen, one of the farmers who took the risk of planting early, said corn is already sprouting in some of his fields, and he’s ready to move on to planting soybeans.

Nationally, farmers have planted 13 percent of corn acreage, up from a USDA 5-year average of 8 percent. 

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