Weld County, Colorado corn planting delayed due to moisture
May 18, 2017
Colorado corn planted
Week ending / Percent planted
May 14, 2016 / 60
May 7, 2017 / 29
May 14, 2017 / 53
2012-16 average / 61
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Dave Eckhardt tried to be optimistic just before planting season got underway. The LaSalle corn farmer always is at the start of another season. But he found it harder to do so as drought conditions persisted.
But just as planting season got underway, moisture finally started to fall.
A snow and rain mixture hit Weld County the last weekend of April, followed by this past week's heavy rains and another round of snow and rain that hit Thursday. The moisture may have flooded many basements, but Eckhardt found it welcome.
The wet weather, though, led to some delays.
According to the May 15 crop progress report, 53 percent of Colorado's corn was planted as of May 14, which is behind last year's 60 percent. According to the five-year averages, about 61 percent is generally planted by this time.
Even so, last week was productive for a lot of farmers. As of May 7, only 29 percent of the state's corn crop was planted.
Eckhardt isn't too worried: He finished planting on May 28 last year, and he planted on wet fields, too. He won't turn down rain. But now he wouldn't mind if it paused.
While it's not yet known what effect Thursday's storm will have, the recent moisture didn't drag all of Weld County out of its drought.
According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Drought Monitor, which collects data for the entire U.S., most of eastern Weld County wasn't experiencing drought conditions as of May 16. However, the western edge of the county was still in the abnormally dry category. Even so, the drought conditions are a major improvement from three months ago. Most of Weld County was at least abnormally dry with the moderately dry areas expanded north to the Windsor area.
While every season starts with optimism, commodity prices can keep farmers' expectations grounded.
Eckhardt normally plants corn for silage and grain, but he supplemented the silage for more pinto beans since JBS, who he normally contracts with, has a surplus of corn from last year's record season.
"We're a little more diversified than some, but not as much as others," Eckhardt said. "So the opportunity to spread some acres in another direction helps a little but for us."
Eckhardt also grows sugar beets and onion.
Corn prices have been on the downturn since 2013. In 2012 corn prices were more than $7 per bushel. A bushel is equal to 64 pints. The price of corn hasn't been above $5 a bushel since 2013 and hasn't been above $4 since 2015.
"When it comes to the corn market, we're one disaster away from $5 corn," Eckhardt said. "When you plant you hope you're not that disaster, but that somebody else, somewhere else is."