HANNIBAL — Many area farmers have been working their fields, applying treatments and planting crops, amid a planting season which is off to a better start than in the past couple years.
Mark Lehenbauer, who operates a farm near Hannibal, and Kenny Lovelace, who operates a farm in Palmyra, Mo., have each reported signs of a productive planting season, particularly compared to the wet conditions in the area in the past two years. Lehenbauer already had most of his corn planted, and Lovelace said his granddaughter, Emily, was in a similar situation.
Lehenbauer has been applying fertilizer and preparing the ground for corn throughout the week. He said “he’s planted “a lot of corn”, pointing out the ground was in good shape to work following a couple missed rains recently.
He has already begun planting soybeans, and he will soon be finished planting corn. From there, the focus will be on getting a large amount of soybeans in the ground.
“I think things are going pretty good. I think everybody is in pretty much the same boat as we are, “ Lehenbauer said. “You’re just trying to get as much crop as you can during this weather window that’s been a while a while for us. It’s been a pretty good spring, really.”
Lovelace has sprayed two fields in preparation for planting corn for sileage and soybeans, and he expected to have planting finished next week. He said strong prices for corn and soybeans mean there will be a bit more insurance protection for the crops, in case there is a drought.
So far, Lovelace has been seeing encouraging signs throughout the region, and he said he didn’t think his granddaughter had much corn left to plant. He saw some corn near Quincy which was about four inches tall and green, rather than the usual yellow color. In the West Quincy bottoms, he saw a nice looking field of beans, as well.
Technology and equipment improvements also play a role in efficiency and productivity for farmers in the area, Lovelace said. He said the two-row planters gave way to four-, six-, 12- and 16-row planters, which can also be filled with bulk amounts of seed. Grain can be hauled much more efficiently by semi trucks than the pickup trucks farmers used to use.
“It really has changed everything. You just get so much more done in a day’s time,” he said.
In addition, more farmers in the area are planting cover crops on rolling land with a no-till method. Lovelace said one of the issues he’s seen is a shortage of some necessities like oil filters. Lovelace said the factors could line up for increased prosperity this year.
“I think if the weather will cooperate and they can raise a crop this time — I’m sure they’re contracting grain right and left as high as it is — they’re going to probably have one of the better bumper years they’ve ever had, because the prices on corn and beans both are good,” Lovelace said. “I guess we’ll see.”