LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Corn farmers in parts of southeast Nebraska can expect to take a hit on yields this year, thanks to a late spring freeze, according to experts.
Bob Sugden, 68, of rural Sterling, said he knew his crop was in trouble when he walked into his fields on the morning of May 16 and found frozen corn shoots. The overnight low of 30 degrees broke a record for the Lincoln area, the National Weather Service said.
Sugden said it was the latest spring freeze he could recall.
"I've farmed since I was about 17, and I never saw anything like that," he told the Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/1pDE6hz ) on Thursday.
Ron German, a DuPont Pioneer Hi-Bred seed account manager for the Lincoln area, said the May frost hit mainly from the Bennet area southeast to the Tecumseh area. Lower-lying areas, where colder air settled, were hit hardest.
About 10 percent of plants in affected fields won't recover, German said, and those that survive likely will yield 20 to 25 percent less corn.
Experts are not recommending replanting in most cases, because the late start on replanted corn also would mean reduced yields. Only about 5 percent of fields were hit hard enough for replanting to pay off, German said.
Going into this week, 78 percent of the Nebraska's corn crop had been planted, compared with 88 percent nationally, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service's weekly crop report.
Carl Sousek, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, said investors in corn futures are likely waiting to see how the crop develops this year, as corn prices for July delivery closed at $4.70 a bushel Thursday. Sousek described that price as close to the break-even mark for corn farmers.
Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com