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Planting progress is record-setting

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Column by Matt Adams, Hardin County Extension Service agent

We all know the mild winter and early warm spring weather has things running ahead of schedule this year in our area. This not only has been the case in Hardin County, but in most areas of the country. Warm temperatures early, along with minimal rainfall created excellent early planting conditions in much of the country, allowing farmers to plant this year’s corn and soybean crops at a record pace.

So just how far ahead are we? According to USDA’s crop progress report, as of May 21, 96 percent of the nation’s intended corn acres have been planted. That ties the record set in 2000, and compares with 79 percent last year and a 5-year average of 81 percent. According to the same report, 76 percent of that corn had emerged, compared to 45 percent last year and a 5-year average of 48 percent. That is the second-highest percent emerged as of this week on record.

The emerged corn is off to a good start. USDA’s first estimate of this year’s crop condition came in at 77 percent rated good or excellent. This is the third-highest rating on record and compares to a 5-year average of 65.8 percent.

While most farmers have completed corn planting, many have been able to turn attention to planting soybeans earlier than normal. As of May 21, 76 percent of the nation’s soybean crop had been planted, with 30 percent being planted the week before the report. This breaks the record and compares to 41 percent last year and a 5-year average of 42 percent.

There are no national numbers that have been published as of yet regarding the condition of the soybean crop.

Why is this progress significant? While early planting is certainly no guarantee of higher yield, it does give the plant a better chance of developing before the extreme heat of late summer. Extreme heat causes pollination problems in corn and hinders pod development in soybeans. A high percentage of early planting also tells another story: The crop is in the ground. Remember, at this point last year, a lot of crop fields across the country were still under water. Getting seed in the ground is the first step in growing a successful crop.

While the weather throughout the remainder of the growing season ultimately will determine the success of the crop, early planting and good early plant development have occurred, giving this year’s corn and soybean crops a chance to continue a record breaking year.

Hardin and LaRue Conservation districts offer tour

Hardin and LaRue County Conservation Districts have collaborated to offer the 2012 Area Agriculture Tour, open to all Hardin and LaRue County residents.

Wednesday, June 20, tour participants will visit Bob Wade Jr.’s farm in Hardin County to see an example of an elaborate irrigation system and technological implementation in a large grain production.

From there, buses travel to the LaRue County Environmental Education Center. There, participants will meet with a Division of Forestry representative and learn about woodland management while experiencing the historical site in Hodgenville. An NRCS representative also will be on site to discuss native grasses and management of plots. Lunch will be served by LaRue County Cattleman’s Association and a cupcake dessert will be provided by a local baker.

After lunch, buses will travel to Hart County to observe the Hart County Produce Auction. A representative there will outline the operation and its formation. The tour concludes as buses travel to the Detweiler Country Store. This elaborate business showcases Amish culture and participants will have an opportunity to peruse homemade baskets, gifts, fabric and farm supplies.

There is no cost for the tour and lunch is provided.

Buses will be at Park and Ride in Elizabethtown at 8:30 a.m. for boarding and depart at 8:45 a.m.

Participants can expect to return to the drop-off point at approximately 4 p.m., if not earlier.

Reservations are required for seating and meal purposes. Call the Hardin County Conservation District at 765-2273 or the LaRue County Conservation District at 358-3132 before June 12.

Matt Adams is a Hardin County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources.