We can thank technology for 24% of the U.S. corn crop being planted in one week

Have you ever looked across the road at the neighbour and thought, “Man, he has a lot of equipment for the acres he farms!”

I think that conversation must be happening more than we think because the USDA has reported that corn planting is 71% complete in the U.S. That’s 1% ahead of the long-term average, and also means that  24% of the American corn crop was planted last week alone.

The state-by-state numbers are actually even more impressive — Minnesota planted 49%;
Iowa, 33%; Nebraska, 30%; and, South Dakota, 45%, of their respective corn acres. Iowa, a major corn growing state planted one-third of its corn acres in seven days. That’s amazing. How is it even possible?

What we do know is that equipment manufacturers have done a great job of convincing us to buy large equipment in order to plant the crop in a short window because may need to. Farmers have been wondering why corn and soybean prices have had a hard time finding higher prices even with the wet cold weather much of the U.S. Midwest has received. I think it’s because the market has known all along that farmers can plant acres at a rate per week that has never been seen before.

The amount of automation technology on the planter is allowing us to glean the benefits of robotics with someone still sitting in the cab. Farmers can run extended hours more safely because the pressure in the cab has been reduced. Strains on the mind and strains on the body have been reduced due to the comfort of technology. With autosteer, you can focus on the monitors to ensure the machine is operating properly which makes the farmer “planter manager” instead of an operator.

When you are more relaxed mentally and physically it is conducive to run longer hours than 20 years ago. Combine that with precision applications, and farmers are getting more acres planted in a week than ever before, and planted with accuracy. And what that does for yield and productivity is nothing short of amazing.

 

Shaun Haney

Shaun grew up on a family seed farm in Southern Alberta. Haney Farms produces, conditions and retails wheat, barley, canola and corn seed. Shaun Haney is the founder of RealAgriculture.com. @shaunhaney

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