According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Nebraska corn farmers will plant 9.3 million acres of corn, equal to last year’s total acres planted.With Nebraska corn farmers’ intentions of planting 9.3 million acres of corn this year, farmers will spend about $280 per acre to get the crop in the ground and off to a good start. This figure, multiplied by the estimated 9.3 million corn acres to be planted in Nebraska, grows to more than a $2.6 billion investment by the state’s corn farmers over a two-month period. That amount does not include land costs, labor or equipment – it’s purely inputs like seed, fuel, and fertilizer. Looking beyond these initial inputs, however, the full economic impact corn has in Nebraska will more than double in a year.
“The full economic impact of the corn industry in Nebraska over the year is greater than $6 billion and reaches far beyond the initial $2.6 billion farmers invest to get their crop in the ground,” said Boone McAfee, director of market development and research at the Nebraska Corn Board. “When the corn crop is harvested, its economic impact grows significantly as it is converted into meat, milk, eggs, ethanol, distiller’s grains, bioplastics and more. That is why it is critical to get the corn planted and off to a good start in the spring.”
Historically in Nebraska, farmers begin planting in mid-April and wrap up as quickly as possible in May. However, weather is a key element for planting. And this year’s moderately dry winter brings a concern of soil moisture that will be available come planting time. According to the April 13 USDA Nebraska Crop Progress and Condition report, topsoil moisture supplies in Nebraska rated 15 percent very short, 32 short, 50 adequate, and 3 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 13 percent very short, 29 short, 57 adequate and 1 surplus.
“As farmers strive to improve every year, they make this multi-billion dollar investment each spring with the hope of producing more corn per acre,” said Tim Scheer, farmer from St. Paul, Nebraska and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Nebraska is the third largest corn producing state in the US, and the corn industry continues to be an economic booster for Nebraska. The investment farmers make this spring will not only reverberate through the rural economy, but will multiply to support the rest of Nebraska.”
Another challenge with planting investments this year is the low commodity prices compared to the continued rise of input costs. This makes the margin for the cost of production very slim for Nebraska farmers.
“Similar to last year, we will see another year of tight margins and farmers will again be producing closer to the cost of production,” said McAfee. “Yet, as we continue to see volatile market activity, there will hopefully be opportunities for farmers to manage their risk.”
Nationally, farmers intend to plant 89.2 million acres this year, which is 2.5 million fewer acres than the previous year. If realized, this will be the third consecutive year of an acreage decline and would be the lowest planted acreage in the United States since 2010. Notably, however, it would still be the sixth-largest U.S. corn acreage planted since 1944 according to the USDA.