May 24, 2017
By Kelsey Cassebaum
Top photo, Butler County farmer Steve Tanner, right, talks about this year's corn crop with Federation intern Kelsey Cassebaum and Federation Wheat & Feed Grain Director Carla Hornady. Bottom photo, Conecuh County farmer Steve Dunn examines oats that are near harvest.
Despite low feed grain yields in 2016 because of drought, some Alabama farmers increased corn acreage this year, counting on good market conditions come harvest in July.
Butler County’s Steve Tanner planted 1,100 acres of non-irrigated corn this year, up more than 300 acres from 2016. His non-irrigated corn is a healthy, lush green and is about head high.
“The current corn price is $3.70 a bushel, but we’re hoping to get $5,” said Tanner, 59. “Prices should rally sometime between now and July.”
Alabama corn acreage is expected to reach 240,000 acres this year, a 27 percent drop from 330,000 acres in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA reports indicate Alabama farmers are in the final stages of planting this year’s corn crop.
U.S. corn planting for 2017 is estimated at 90 million acres, down 4 percent, or 4 million acres.
“I keep some of my corn crop (to feed his cattle), but most of it is hauled straight out the field to the grain elevator,” Tanner said, who sells his corn before harvest for an agreed-upon price.
Nearly 45 miles away in Conecuh County, Steve Dunn, is battling drought-like conditions reminiscent of 2016.
Dunn grows corn, cotton, oats and wheat on 1,500 acres with farm partner John Cook. This year, Dunn planted 150 acres of oats, up 60 acres from 2016, and he’s optimistic about its potential yields.
“We grow Bob oats, which is a public variety, and that allows us to bag it and sell it for reseeding purposes,” said Dunn, who is the Alabama Farmers Federation secretary-treasurer.
The Federation’s Carla Hornady said she’s optimistic changes in Midwest conditions could aid Alabama farmers.
“If key feed grain-producing states reduce acreage this year, buyers might rely on smaller states like Alabama for grains,” said Hornady, the Federation’s Wheat & Feed Grains Division director. “That should drive prices higher and benefit grain farmers.”