Things are not looking great for corn production in Colorado. Estimates are starting to come in and it is expected that there will be up to 200,000 less acres planted this year. The reason is primarily the drought and the financial implications on farmers in Colorado are bound to be severe. This figure represents more than a ten percent drop in planting. The reality is that the water reserves are simply not there to sustain more planting than this.
The district has of course a huge shortfall in it’s reservoir reserves, some say they are at between 50-70% of expected quota. These have not yet been agreed but there’s little doubt that allocation will be below the 100% assigned last year. Most people are expecting 60% unless we get some very wet weather, very soon.
The difficulty is that the quota is set with regards two years of planting, so it has a tendency to be conservative. The first year in the cycle is obviously the most difficulty to assign as a contingency must be retained in case things get worse in the following year. Some of the more pessimistic farmers are planting much less that this proportion, preferring to wait and see what the following year brings.
Corn is of course not the only water intensive crop that is grown in Colorado. Farmers are also expecting to heavily reduce the production of sugar beet too. Others are intending to switch to Spring crops like barley and oats which will obviously have a significant effect on prices on all these crops.
Many farmers are starting to use technology and the internet to research and perfect their decision making processes. Having access to long term weather forecasts is obviously important and discussion with experts in different countries who sometimes have more experience of dealing with the sort of conditions that have impacted Colorado recently. One of the more useful programs on the internet is the farming and science shows broadcast by the BBC – these are normally restricted to the UK but if you try this post – http://www.proxyusa.com/iplayer-ipad-us-vpn, you can get access on your laptop or iPad anywhere. Try out the Farming today show for a different perspective on farming than the local media and sites.
I found this method whilst staying in Dublin for a few weeks, it lets you get BBC Iplayer in Ireland so it should work anywhere.