Planting Update: Topsoil Bone Dry in Nebraska

April 10, 2014 03:11 AM
Planting Update: Topsoil Bone Dry in Nebraska

"There's just no soil moisture at all on top," says Randy Uhrmacher, a farmer in south central Nebraska.

With planting season just weeks away, he's prepping the ground by strip tilling while applying nitrogen.

"The ground is working okay, but it's super, super dry."

Watch the full AgDay report:

Uhrmacher says that’s because he hasn’t seen any decent moisture since October.

"As we can see, there's still 1152 (phosphorus) sitting on top of the ground because it just hasn't had any moisture to dissolve it and put it into the soil," he says.

What's more concerning for this Nebraska farmer is how rough planting could be this year.

"We have a lot of these clods from putting our strips in," he says. "We're going to need some moisture to soften the clods before we can even plant."

The Nebraska farmer fears without Mother Nature’s help, he’ll be forced to prewater with irrigation just to germinate the crop.

About two hours west in Ogallala, Neb., Andy Devries says moisture underneath is decent, but the growing season is still a concern.

"I checked my wheat this morning, and I have 5 foot of moisture, at least three foot of it you can make a ball out of it, so we're sitting pretty decent, but it's not going to be enough to make a crop yet," he explains.

As for crop rotation, both farmers are opting to grow more beans.

"The past two years I've been all corn, but this year I'm going to put not quite a quarter of my acres in soybeans," says Devries.

"I think we did have 80 acres or quarter of extra beans, just because of the fluxuation in prices we've had," says Uhrmacher.

Their decision to put in more soybeans is similar to other farmers in the state. In USDA’s March acreage forecast, the agency pegged Nebraska’s total soybean acreage to be up 13% from last year.

Even though the soybean acreage could still grow from delayed planting, these farmers aren't worried about that just yet. Originally, Uhrmacher was shooting for April 15 to get the planters rolling.

"If we don't get in until after Easter it wouldn't surprise me," he says.

"We're getting about two to three days a week of field work lately," says Devries. "It's going to be a challenge to get things in on time."

Devries says they still have about three-quarters of their acres to strip till before they even think about planting. Despite the amount of work left to do, he still thinks planting won't be too far behind average.

Even though subsoil moisture is better than it's been in years starting out, Devries knows getting the crop in and up is just half the battle in his part of the world.

"Where we get concerned is when August comes around and usually the rain shuts off completely," he says. "Depending on what our soil conditions are at that time, then maybe we should have this conversation again."

Watch more of the I-80 Planting Tour.

Get more Planting News & Updates.


Back to news


Spell Check

No comments have been posted to this News Article

Corn College TV Education Series


Get nearly 8 hours of educational video with Farm Journal's top agronomists. Produced in the field and neatly organized by topic, from spring prep to post-harvest. Order now!


Market Data provided by
Brought to you by Beyer