USDA Report Shows Robust Planting Across Nebraska Amid COVID-19 and Flood Recovery

(Photo by Madelyn Beck, Harvest Public Media)
May 27, 2020 - 5:15pm

A year ago, many farmers were still processing historic statewide flooding and an onslaught of global trade disruptions.

Many worried about how land and market conditions would impact their livelihoods. According to the USDA, roughly half of soybeans were planted by late May of 2019, with just over three quarters of corn in the ground.

Jenny Rees, an extension educator with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, remembers farmers waiting months to fully begin their growing seasons. "It was just so cold, and the soils were so cold. It was just such a different situation," Rees explained.

But some producers say they’ve finished weeks early this year. Rees' family farm finished planting before Mother's Day, a scenario that almost never happens during a typical year. She's heard from nearby producers that 2020 has been kinder to them too.

“The soil conditions are good--moisture wise--as well as we were on a warming trend with soil temperatures," she said. "It just really allowed for a lot of planting to be done in a short amount of time.”

The latest USDA Crop Progress Report shows 97 percent of corn is now planted statewide, with over 75 percent of producers rating the corn crop quality good or excellent. 89 percent of Nebraska’s soybeans are also in the ground, over a multi-year average of 62 percent. That trend extends to more than the state's corn and soybeans acres: planting numbers across most of Nebraska’s commodities significantly topped their cumulative averages for late May.

Rees also sensed easier planting weather gave many farmers some emotional respite from the past year's stresses and the COVID-19 pandemic. "I think in a lot of ways, being able to just plant was in some ways a sense of normalcy,” Rees said.
Some also seemed anxious to avoid any more losses.

"There was this sense of urgency, of needing to get it in the ground, in case something happened," Rees added.

Between ongoing global trade uncertainties and decreased ethanol demand due to COVID-19, it isn't clear what market conditions those crops will ultimately grow into. Producers are still savoring the uncommonly early planting season.

That’s just another way this year is abnormal, Rees said: but for once, that’s a good thing.




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