How late can you plant corn? That question hangs over plenty of growers and farm advisers in the upper Delta and lower Midwest where rain and flooding have stalled field work, delayed planting and taken out some stands. Here are 4 postings on our web site relating to late corn planting decisions:
DROUGHT IN THE LOWER SOUTH - THE OTHER WEATHER STORY THIS WEEK
Drought persists in portions of the lower South. The intensity varies, but it’s been dry enough in areas from south Louisiana to south Georgia that some farmers stopped planting cotton and even peanuts. Scattered rain fell this week, which may help jumpstart planting. Here's the latest drought monitor map
Georgia State Climatologist David Stooksbury said in an advisory Wednesday that drought will likely linger in his state through the summer. If anything, conditions could worsen in August, said Stooksbury, who’s also on the University of Georgia faculty. Here’s his advisory.
The drought covers a wide swath. Brent Batchelor, Extension Agent in Matagorda County to the west of Houston, Texas, said on Wednesday that lack of rain since early February has forced some rice farmers to flush fields 4 times before rice was ready for a flood. “We’re looking at a significant yield loss in the corn, if not a total loss in places," he reported. "Some is waist high and tasseling. We had high hopes for cotton, but it’s obviously been affected.”
OTHER FLOOD REPORTS
Extensive backwater flooding is expected now in the lower Midsouth as the Mississippi continues to rise. Water will likely cover portions of Mississippi's south Delta. Mainline levees in threatened areas in Mississippi will be closed to both vehicle and foot traffic on Saturday, and the National Guard will patrol the levee system.
Fertilizer supply movement could be hindered in the Delta this month because the Mississippi River is too high for port facilities to unload barges, according to one observation in this week’s RiceFax. Corn growers who can’t apply liquid fertilizer in wet fields are flying on dry fertilizer at a time when rice growers need it for preflood applications.
Wheat in the Delta is taking a hit from rain and flooding. In some instances, whole fields have been lost, and head scab is a concern, in general. Mississippi issued an advisory for growers who are considering taking wheat early in areas that likely will flood.
Some Midsouth elevators, we’re told, are allowing growers to roll at least a portion of their corn contracts into 2012 to provide relief where the farmers can't plant enough corn to fulfill agreements this year. How soon farmers can return to fields, provided it doesn't rain more, varies from a few days to several weeks. Several feet of water stand on fields in flooded portions of the upper Midsouth, and rivers -- both the Mississippi and its tributaries -- are too swollen to allow floods to recede.
As we closed this issue at mid day on Thursday, it appeared likely that the Morganza Spillway near Baton Rouge would be opened to provide relief from flood waters that might threaten New Orleans and levees on the lower river. This is the first time the flood-release structure has been opened since 1973.
Lance Honeycutt, Jimmy Sanders, Inc., Jonesboro, Ark.: “My growers have finished planting corn, although I’m told that there’s still some in the area that farmers expect to plant. My corn has been under water several times, at least in places, but the water moved off quickly. We’ll have to evaluate it again this weekend to see if we will lose any. I’ve never seen some of these ditches with backflow like we’ve had, with it going on for several days. Right now (5/4), I’d term the wheat crop good, although not excellent. We had a mild winter and a dry fall. Anybody who got a good stand last fall and had proper drainage probably had strong yield potential before it started raining 3 weeks ago. The rain, combined with standing water, hurt us, though. The crop is between flowering and soft dough.”
Billy McLawhorn, McLawhorn Crop Services, Inc., Cove City, N.C.: "We’re starting to make over-the-top herbicide applications on corn. It’s got a really good start, with very little insect pressure early. Some people got hit hard by bill bugs in 2010, but that hasn’t been the case this year. Wheat is finishing up. We’re spot checking around for disease one last time. We treated a small amount last week for cereal leaf beetles. We’re looking at harvest in about 4 weeks. Disease and insect pressure have been real low. We’re dry in places. Those storms last week brought some rain, and isolated spots got decent showers. But other areas do remain dry.”
Chris Main, Tennessee Extension Wheat And Cotton Specialist: “The wheat crop, which really looked good at one point, is going to be ugly now. Water has been standing in a lot of those fields for 6 to 7 days. When temperatures get into the 80s. a lot of disease will spring up and cover the wheat. Fungicides were applied for head scab in places last Thursday and Friday and into Saturday, but that was too late, more than likely. Everything inside the levees on the Mississippi River is flooded, and we’ve now (5/3) had a diluge from the skies for about the last 48 hours, so smaller tributaries are swollen, which has put additional acres under water. Even some corn planted in bottoms in the hills got water over it for a brief time in the last 24 to 48 hours. With the Mississippi River being so much higher this year, it’s holding up water from draining off. If the forecast holds true, we might be able to get in Friday or Saturday (5/6-7) on some hill ground but still will have wet holes on terraces and such. So, it won’t be an ideal situation.”
John Raymond Bassie, Ind. Consultant, Bassie’s Agri Service, Cleveland, Miss.: “I wouldn’t be surprised if we’ve planted 40% to 50% of our soybeans. We’ve managed to make herbicide applications on about 50% of our corn. With the weather lately, our main problem has been trying to get the second fertilizer application on corn. With the wheat, we’re just waiting for it to mature, and it probably will be ready about a week early.”
Rusty Harris, Worth County Extension Agent, Sylvester, Ga.: “We’re going to have a bumper wheat crop if the weather holds . This probably has been the lightest disease pressure I can remember, and the crop could be as much as 2 weeks earlier than normal. In another week (from 5/2) we could see some wheat cut where the earliest varieties were planted early. With the dry conditions, corn is somewhat rolled up where it’s not under irrigation.”
David Hydrick, Hydrick’s Crop Consulting, Inc., Jonesboro, Ark.: “We don’t have a lot of grain crops in the ground yet – just some corn, a small amount of our soybean acres and a limited number of grain sorghum acres. Corn already is in bad shape. We’re seeing what we think is carryover injury in corn from Prefix used in last year’s soybean crop. We flew ammonium sulfate on some corn where we couldn’t fertilize by ground, and even some of that is going under water now. I drove by one corn field today (5/2) where the farmer had positioned a small tractor with a relift pump to try to pull water off the field, and the water was up to the point that all you could see of the tractor was the steering wheel and seat.
"We got another 6 to 10 inches of rain out of this last system, and water already is backing up on more land. If the weather turned dry, we still wouldn’t be able to return to the field for at least another 7 days where fields aren’t flooded. But compared to some areas near us, we’re certainly in better shape. With some exceptions, our fields aren’t flooded, only wet. Things aren’t bad around here yet, but there is potential for them to get worse. A lot will depend on how much more rain we get and how well the levees hold.”
Joe Townsend, Ind. Consultant, Coahoma, Miss.: “A lot of soybeans are up and were growing, but a portion of them are now under water. We sprayed some corn for brown stink bugs. About 2 weeks ago, we also sprayed a lot of our wheat. The prevailing thinking was that we didn’t need to put a fungicide on the crop. But with all this storm activity and a lot of wind from the south that could carry potential infections, we felt like we needed the protection. At the same time, we included something for armyworms and aphids. We’ve also got a huge amount of Roundup-damaged wheat.
“The situation in the north Delta, overall, is pretty bleak. One farmer at Friars Point decided to break his private levee on the unprotected side of the mainline levee. The idea is that the river will top the levee, anyway, and breaking it now means that the land inside it would flood in a controlled way. Letting the river breach the levee would damage it and also overflow sand onto his acreage. This levee is about 45 years old, and they’ve never had to break it until now. He cut into it at the south end so that water will backflow there as it rises and won’t come rushing in. It's a shame. He has a beautiful start to corn on that land, some great looking wheat and about 1,000 acres already rowed up for cotton. Water also is about to start flowing over the dam at Arkabutla (Lake), which could mean flooding downstream. Thousands of acres in Tallahatchie County already are at risk, with a lot already flooded.”
Trey Bullock, Bullock's Ag Consulting, Hattiesburg, Miss.: "Our corn looks real good, although we don’t have a lot of it. Two of my farmers have wheat, and they’ve caught some beneficial showers. Even though they can irrigate, every time they were about to start, it rained enough to keep the wheat going. Otherwise, it’s dry as a bone in much of the area I work. There’s rain in the forecast this week, and we need it. Some areas haven’t had appreciable rainfall in 5 weeks.”
Jeremy Greene, Clemson University Cotton Entomologist, Blackville, S.C.: “As things look right now, I think we’ll have more issues in soybeans this season with kudzu bugs, and I suspect that they’ll be more widespread. I’ve already gotten calls from people who are finding them in fig trees – hundreds of them on each tree – in areas where we don’t have the common hosts, kudzu or soybeans.”
Harold Lambert, Ind. Consultant, Innis, La.: “Our earliest beans are at second trifoliate, and we’re finding a lot of thrips in them. We haven’t treated any yet but may. That’s uncommon, but with these dry, windy conditions, it could be necessary. Weather permitting, we could be cutting some samples in the wheat by the end of this week to check for moisture. Our most advanced corn is in the very early ear shoot formation stage, with an ear that’s about 2 inches long.”
Mike Donahoe, Santa Rosa County Extension Leader, Milton, Fla.: “We’ve got a few thousand acres of wheat, and most was planted for cover. But with the stronger wheat market, a lot of growers put on fertilizer, applied a fungicide and will carry it over for grain. A big portion of that wheat is browned down and not too far from being ready. Some beans will be planted behind the wheat, but we also do plant cotton after it. Our cotton acreage should be up 10% to 15%, with most of that coming out of peanuts.”
Wendell Minson, Bootheel Crop Consultants, Dexter, Mo.: "Since 2 weeks ago tomorrow (5/5), I’ve had 25 inches of rain at my house. The most in a single day was 5 to 5.5 inches, with a lot of smaller amounts adding to the total. These little rivers here can’t hold any more rain, and the Mississippi is swollen with all the snow melt and rain upriver. Floods and rain have thrown all of our planning and normal schedules out the window.
“About half our corn has been planted. By now, all of it should have been. We’ll also be replanting corn, trying to plant beans, plant rice and also cotton – all of it pushed together. The corn doesn’t look very good. I’ve lost track of how many hail storms we’ve had on some of it. We’ve gotten at least 4 rounds of hail at my house. Mostly, it’s been marble-size hail that really beat up the corn that was out of the water. And we’re in a cooling pattern right now – 61 for a high when it should be 72.
“Conditions favor disease in the wheat. Head scab could be bad. We’ve lost at least 20% of the wheat to flooding and 20% of the yield to environmental factors and disease, especially where it’s been standing in water. We need a good month of open weather.”
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