Spring corn planting update

Pure Nebraska
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 11:46 AM CDT|Updated: May. 18, 2022 at 12:15 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Many farmers are finished with planting corn, while others continue the effort to get the crop in the ground. We talked with a Lancaster County farm family about planting season.

Tom and Paula Peterson not only have cattle, but also plant corn and soybeans. One of their planters uses GPS and variable-rate technology to make the job easier. “This planter you can actually plug in a prescription of where you want how many seeds to go in each part of the farm,” Paula said. “This way, we don’t waste seed on areas that are not as productive. But, we are able to put a little more seed out where we are going to have a better chance for getting more yield. It’s a cost-effective way to put the seed where we need it. Much of the tractor guidance is based on GPS technology. Tom makes straight rows. He made straight rows before we had GPS, but this makes it even better. Plus, you make less passes over the field, and it helps save on fuel. That’s good, the way fuel prices are now. Tom told me that he uses about 80 gallons of fuel per day when he’s out planting.”

Another feature that is useful to farmers is how the planter can sense when you’ve gone over an area before. “It will stop putting seed in the ground when it senses that,” Paula said. “It makes the seed more efficient. That also makes harvest easier, as you don’t have any cross-rows.”

Some people start planting corn in Nebraska as early as April 15. “We are usually a week or two behind most of the neighbors, because we have cows that have to get out on pasture before we get started,” Paula said. “Corn likes the soil to be about 55 to 60 degrees. So, we are not too far behind as far as the soil goes. That’s what we look for.” After planting corn, the Peterson family will switch over to planting soybeans. “We usually run both planters, and get one crop in at a time,” Paula said. “Then we’ll do the soybeans right after.”

Most of the corn you see in the fields of Nebraska is actually “field corn” and not “sweet corn.” More than 90% of corn in Nebraska is field corn. This corn is used for ethanol or cattle feed.

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