crops

Much of the Great Plains is experiencing drought: So far, at least half of Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa, and Oklahoma are abnormally dry, with large areas experiencing severe drought.

Walking through rows of growing crops helps farmers monitor for harmful insects, leaves that are damaged by disease or other problems that could reduce their overall harvest at the end of the season. 

And this year in Iowa, there’s a menace that, left to its own devices, could munch farmers out of profit. 

Andrew Joyce won’t be growing any tomatoes this summer. His three-acre produce farm in Malden, Missouri, will lie fallow. The cause: damage from the weed killer dicamba.

Cotton Making A Rebound In Southern Kansas

Nov 26, 2017
CCO Creative Commons

Roger Sewell slowed his pickup down on a rural section of Pratt County, next to a field gleaming white.

“How’s it look?” he said with a grin, then added this good field of cotton, to be stripped in coming weeks and eventually turned into denim, was his.

Just a few years ago, it was tougher to find a cotton field in these parts. The fledgling industry had been struggling to regain its footing after peaking in acres more than a decade ago. High corn prices and 2,4-D drift were among the culprits causing farmers to shy away from cotton.

Plant breeder Jessica Barb is on a mission to improve how sunflowers self-pollinate, a trait that'll be increasingly important to farmers are wild bee populations diminish. Her research tool of choice: a paper towel. 

Study: Vast Animal-Feed Growth Is Damaging the Planet

Oct 9, 2017
Dwight Burdette / Wikimedia Commons

A new study has found that the vast amount of animal-feed crops humans grow to satisfy the global appetite for meat is seriously harming the planet.

As The Guardian reports, the study by the World Wildlife Fund finds that the earth’s environment is being put under a heavy strain by the staggering amount of land and resources needed to grow crops like soy to feed chickens, pigs, and other animals.

Colorado State University

A Colorado State University crop and soil scientist recently secured funding for sites in northeastern Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska to look at ways diversifying crop rotations and using cover crops can maintain yields, keep soils productive, reduce environmental impacts and address retention of soil carbon and water.

Megan Schipanski, CSU crop and soil scientist, applied for the grant and extension personnel on the High Plains will be assisting in local areas by providing a solid producer base for onsite research

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Cropland in the Midwest is losing its value as the downturn in the agriculture economy continues, according to a number of surveys by agricultural economists. Record-high crop prices contributed to record-high land values in 2012 and 2013, but now, that party is over.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media

Near Alexander, Iowa, on a cloudy spring Tuesday, Josh Nelson watches a bright red Case IH Magnum tractor pull a 24-row planter and crest a small hill, dropping corn seed at careful intervals. Nelson says his family farm dodged a weather bullet this week, but it’s just one of many hurdles this season promises.

Kathleen Masterson / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Midwest farmers are expected to plant a huge corn crop this year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts farmers will plant nearly 94 million acres of corn this season. That’s up 6 percent from last year’s planted acreage and would be the third-highest planted acreage in the U.S. since the 1940s.

Calvin Mattheis / Hutchinson News

From Kansas Agland:

It is evident from the sweeping acres of sorghum, wheat and pastures of cattle, the irrigated circles that can be seen from the sky, and from the scenic overlook at Dodge City where thousands of cattle are fattening:

Kansas’ backbone is agriculture.

agriculture.com

When the USDA released its March Prospective Plantings report, some ag experts and grain markets were baffled by the large shift toward corn acres. The report listed a prospective 94 million acres of the crop nationwide. That’s a six percent increase over last year, and would add another 941 million bushels to an already well supplied market, according to agriculture.com.

So, what’s happening here?

Ag Outlook Remains Shaky for 2016

Mar 11, 2016
theoptimist.com

The agriculture industry is entering a new period. This most recent stage is called margin compression, reports CattleNetwork.com. It occurs when revenues are depressed and costs remain elevated.

wisc.edu

Native grasslands are being cultivated into cropland faster than at any time since before the Great Depression, according to the Center for Rural Affairs. Between 2011 and 2012—the most recent years data is available—nearly 400,000 acres of US grassland was converted to cropland. Nebraska topped the list of US states with more than 85 square miles of land being converted from native prairie to farmland in that single year.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

The middle of winter is when the stream of locally grown fruits and vegetables in the Midwest begins to freeze up.

Nicole Saville knows first-hand. Saville is the produce manager at Open Harvest, a grocery coop in Lincoln, Neb. The store promotes food grown by local farmers, but this time of year there just isn’t much available.

bakeryandsnacks.com

New research shows that sorghum is the ideal crop for eastern Colorado. According to the Journal-Advocate, sorghum is cheaper to grow and produces higher yields on the Colorado plains than corn.