Increased Seed Corn Production a Boost to Nebraska Farmers
By Steve White, Grand Island Bureau Chief - bio | email
Growing seed corn is something they do in Iowa and Illinois, not Nebraska, right?
"You just don't think of it coming this far west," Jay Reiners said. "This is my fourth year and I never thought I'd be raising seed."
The eastern corn belt gets more rain. But Nebraska has something even more reliable, and that's irrigation, as center pivots span the landscape.
Reiners said, "A lot more seed's moving this way too, because of that."
Reiners, who farms near Juniata, likes it because it pays a premium, but it also requires more work "It's been an excellent arrangement for me," he said. "You have to put up with people telling you when to do it, what to do, how to do it, but that's all part of the paycheck process."
There was only 154,000 acres of seed corn planted in Nebraska five years ago. Last year, it was around 225,000 acres, which is a 46 percent increase.
"We believe it is the consistency that Nebraska's irrigated land brings that has seen this continually increase over the years," said Kelly Brunkhorst, of the Nebraska Corn Board.
Seed companies like Syngenta and Pioneer have expanded plants near Aurora and York, respectively, to take advantage of those irrigated acres.
"Nebraska is a place where you can see productivity at its best," Pioneer's Global VP Alejandro Munoz told NTV last August.
For Reiners it's not just seed corn, he also grows GMO-free white corn, and not for a philosophical reason.
"I'm doing it for a profit reason," he said, explaining it's headed to the west coast, where they'll pay more for it.
Whether it's seed corn or the GMO-free corn, Reiners has to make sure everything is planted exactly as specified.but he says it's worth it.
He said, "They pay you for the hassle."
And with auto–steer tractors, Reiners said it's easier than ever.
"I don't know how old timers that raised seed for 30 years did this without GPS. I don't understand where it's supposed to go and I let the tractor do its thing," he said.
The latest crop report shows 20 percent of corn has been planted, which is about average, but way up from last spring, when only three percent was planted at this point.