Georgia farmers face another year of severe drought, and the prices of many major commodities remain low. But the long rows ahead look a little better for corn growers, says a University of Georgia expert.
Recent rains have corn farmers "full throttle" putting
one of this year's first row-crops into the ground, said Dewey
Lee, an Extension Service agronomist with UGA College of
and Environmental Sciences.
Due to the oversupply of corn over the past few years, farmers
got low prices for their crops. But corn prices have the
to strengthen this year, Lee said.
More corn was sold than produced in the United States last year.
This reduced the oversupply stock and strengthened prices. Lee
said the trend should continue this year.
Farmers had above-average production last year and still sold
more corn than they could grow. If this year is just an average
year, the U.S. should again sell more corn than is grown. This
would further reduce the oversupply stock and strengthen
Better Prices at Higher
"The growers are facing a little better price environment
this year," Lee said. "But they're having to spend a
little bit more money on growing the crop."
Nitrogen is the main fertilizer used in producing Georgia's $84
million corn crop. The price of natural gas, which is used to
manufacture nitrogen, has increased. So nitrogen prices have
too, by as much as 12 cents per pound.
The nitrogen price increase will add as much as $30 per acre to
some farmers' costs, Lee said. Though corn prices look better
than last year, farmers still face a narrow profit margin on the
To grow corn, you've got to have water. "Whether it comes
from the sky or irrigation," Lee said, "you've got to
The impending drought will cause problems for corn farmers.
conditions have hit southwest and east Georgia severely. In these
two regions, a farmer has little chance of producing profitable
yields without irrigation. In many cases last year, farmers
entire fields of dryland corn, Lee said.
Most irrigation systems use diesel fuel, he said. The increase
in diesel fuel cost will add additional overhead to corn
Planting About the
Heavy rains fell over most of the state the first week of March.
Some areas received as much as 3 to 4 inches. This timely rain
fell as most corn farmers where planting their crop.
Farmers who grow corn like to go ahead and get the corn crop in
the ground and fertilized before it's time to plant cotton and
peanuts, Lee said. Sometimes they plant a little too early. Corn
that was planted in late-February runs the risk of freeze
Low temperatures in Georgia hovered around freezing in the first
week of March. Any damage to the emerging corn crop is yet to
be determined, Lee said.
Despite the encouraging rains and prices, Lee said corn farmers
this year will plant about the same amount of land as last year,
about 350,000 acres.
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