Prices strong as growing conditions improve for grain producers


Circumstances are improving for Texas grain producers as spring plantings get underway in southern parts of the state, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert

Mark Welch, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension grain market economist, Bryan-College Station, said strong grain prices, improving planting conditions and lower input costs are likely to encourage producers going into the season.

Welch said soil moisture conditions have improved across much of the state. Some areas in Central Texas, the South Plains, Rolling Plains and Panhandle remained severely to exceptionally dry, but widespread rains have improved conditions for two-thirds of the state, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Some parts of East Texas and South Texas are dealing with excessive rain. Welch said AgriLife Extension agents in the Coastal Bend reported growers were eager to plant corn but that soggy fields are delaying equipment access.

“I do think the moisture improvement favors grain production,” he said. “Some areas need more rain before planting, but most producers are going to plant grain or cotton depending on their rotation schedule. It’s good for growers to have options and moderated input costs creates more room for potential profit.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will release its early corn acreage estimate soon, Welch said. The expected acres report is based on modeling and limited survey information from growers and economists.

Welch suspects Texas corn acres could increase but said overall market and growing conditions give growers other options. Budgets will be tight, but lower costs for inputs like fuel and fertilizer have increased optimism among growers.

Welch said the cost for 130 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer is $20-$30 lower than this time last year.