I-80 Planting Tour Nebraska: Farmers Are Optimistic Despite Dry Conditions

I-80 Planting Tour Nebraska: Farmers Are Optimistic Despite Dry Conditions

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows more than 22% of Nebraska is in a moderate drought. That’s up 20% since last week. But despite the uptick, farmers we talked to in south-central Nebraska remain pretty optimistic that enough moisture is there.

The machines are rolling in south-central Nebraska.

“Once that calendar hits April 1, you realize you’re in planting month. Everything picks up a little bit,” said Giltner, Neb., farmer Brandon Hunnicutt.

Hunnicutt is wrapping up field work that didn’t get done due to a cold, wet fall, with plans of rolling out the planter early next week.

“Especially in this area, we are really similar (compared to this time last year). We are talking just a shade drier. One good rain and we’re right back where we were at this time last year,” said Hunnicutt.

Despite what the drought monitor reads, Hunnicutt says his area is in pretty good shape. Two inches of rain since February, with an added half-inch just last week, has really helped him out.

“Field conditions-wise, they’re in as good of shape as we’ve had for a few years,” said Hunnicutt.

About an hour southwest near Roseland, Alan Bonifas is still waiting on those rain clouds.

“We’re a little drier than we would like, but hopefully it’s going to rain,” said Roseland farmer Alan Bonifas.

Bonifas says he hasn’t had much rain all spring and didn’t see much snow this winter either. Thankfully, irrigation could help him out.

“On most of the irrigated, we will be OK if we can have one rain,” said Bonifas.

Bonifas says he put down fertilizer in the fall and has already wrapped up the rest of the field work for this spring, with plans to plant early next week as well.

“It’s been so dry, I think most everybody will be ready to plant when it’s time,” said Bonifas.


Both of these farmers say on the surface, the ground is pretty dry. But surprisingly, there’s a decent amount of sub-soil moisture. Both of these farmers are just wishing for some of those good April showers.

“The top two to three inches are dry, but subsoil moisture looks really good. We’re sitting good,” said Hunnicutt.

As far as 2015, both say they are sticking to their regular rotations, which leans on more corn acres.

“We have more corn acres this year than we did last year, but it was a rotation thing,” said Hunnicutt.

“We are pretty much sticking to a normal rotation. We’re usually heavy corn,” said Bonifas.

But if the drought monitor continues to climb, they can’t control Mother Nature. Yet, they can do their best.

"We may or we may not have to run the pivots, but we know we have the safety net of the pivot where we can make it rain," said Hunnicutt.

Bonifas says even though irrigated land can receive some extra TLC if it doesn’t rain, it will take a lot to get the dry land crops through the year. Farmers in the area tell AgDay the soil temperature is sitting in the mid-to-upper 40’s in south central Nebraska.

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