Cornucopia

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Steven Juarez of Farwell headed a crew Thursday cutting silage south of Texico. He said they are cutting between 80 and 120 acres a day.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Parmer County farmers planted almost twice as much corn this year compared to last year in anticipation of a robust market price, according to Extension Agent Monti Vandiver.

They weren’t disappointed, said Vandiver, explaining corn prices have nearly doubled in 2007.

“Worldwide energy demands have driven the ethanol market, which drives the grain market,” he said. “The demand more than doubled. It is good for the farmer.”

Vandiver said corn and other grain products are expected to continue to be in high demand for some time. Though he said crop sizes in the area are not likely to get much larger in the future.

“I think that we planted about as much this year as we can sustain,” Vandiver said. “We’re planting pretty much at full capacity.”

Corn grown in the region is typically sold for animal feed and corn chips, he said.

Abundant early rains combined with a relatively dry harvest season have produced well-above average yields in the shell corn harvest which just started, according to experts.

Corn silage producers, further along in their harvest, are also enjoying a banner year.

“(Farmers) are celebrating a good price and a good crop and we hope to do the same next year,” Scott Johnson of Farwell said.

Owner of a farm services company and a farmer himself, Johnson said this is probably one of the best years he has seen for his silage business.

“All the corn we have cut has been above average. We’ve had some excellent yields this year,” Johnson said.

“That means a better end product (because) we’re putting up a better quality feed.”

It also adds dollars to the local economy, Johnson said, as farmers and farm workers benefit financially from the good yield.

“It’s going to pull worlds of income into our local economy. I don’t think Clovis realizes if those farmers make a little bit of money, they come over there and spend it,” the farmer of 23 years said.

“You just can’t imagine how many of us come over there and do business.”

Johnson said rain in March and April came at a perfect time.

While farmers might have liked more rain in the hot summer months, Johnson said the crops got what they needed between irrigation and natural moisture.

Dry weather in late summer months makes it possible for farmers to get to the fields and harvest whereas heavy moisture would present an obstacle to equipment and even lead to crop spoilage.

In Curry and Roosevelt counties, 25,000 to 30,000 acres of corn are grown annually. Nearly 80 percent of corn grown in those counties is for silage, meaning it is used to feed livestock.

Prices:
White corn for food products: $9 to $10 per hundred pounds
Yellow corn for animal feed: $7 to $8.50 per hundred pounds
Average price of yellow corn over last five years: $4.48 per hundred pounds

By the numbers:

40,500
Acres of corn planted in Parmer County in 2006

78,700
Acres of corn planted in Parmer County in 2007

647,000
Yield of silage corn in tons projected for Parmer County in 2007

Source: Extension Agent Monti Vandiver