South Georgia farmers plant corn in record numbers -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia farmers plant corn in record numbers

March 21, 2007

Lee County --  Many farmers that have rarely planted corn before are putting in hundreds of acres.

The demand for ethanol has caused the demand and price for corn to skyrocket, and South Georgia farmers are ready to take advantage, but the weather is giving the farmers a challenge.

A huge plume of dust behind the tractor shows just how dry and hard South Georgia fields are. Farmer Zack Thaggard said "I had to irrigate another field here next to us before we planted, it's so hard. So that is costing me more money to run the water on it."

Thaggard is a corn expert, but he has doubled the acreage he will plant this year to more than 1,600 acres.

The demand for corn to make ethanol has promised that farmers will get about four dollars a bushel. "I hope it's here to stay, and keeping a market for us," Thaggard said.

Thaggard says sky high prices for fuel and fertilizer have made it very tough for farmers to make a profit in recent years. The increase in corn prices is needed. "The price has basically doubled since last year."

That is why he has doubled the amount he will plant. Most of his neighbors are doing the same. But corn demands a lot of water, and a rainfall deficit of more than five inches across the state shows just how badly rain is needed.

"It's very important. It takes water to grow any type of crop. Corn it takes twice as much it seems. It grows so fast, it just takes a lot of water," Thaggard said.

So Thaggard will keep his irrigation machines running for now, to keep his newly planted crop wet. That means lots of long days and nights planting and tending to what he hopes will be a profitable crop.

Thaggard says he and most other South Georgia farmers will be working 15 to 18 hour days during planting the next few weeks.


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