Owen Taylor, Editor
Corn planting continues where it’s dry enough and warm enough to take a chance. Some areas in Louisiana are more than half finished. Plants have emerged in scattered areas in the lower South.
Wheat conditions remain mixed, as does the crop, itself. More rain in the last couple of months, coupled with cold weather, has kept soils saturated and caused some nitrogen leaching.
Final corn acreage in parts of the South could still slip a bit, based on comments this week, plus some buzz on social networks. A Georgia farmer tweeted that an ag dealer said “more seed corn (was) being returned every day.”
William Birdsong, Extension Agronomist-Row Crops, Headland, Ala.: “Very little corn has been planted so far (as of 3/13).
“Small grain ranges from pre-jointing to jointing, with a few heads just sticking out and flag leaves starting to show, but all that is in a very small percentage of the crop. No negative effects that I’ve seen from the cold weather, but we’ve had a lot of rain and nitrogen leaching.
“Rain totals in February ran from 18 to 28 inches across a wide area, so leaching would be expected and some nitrogen deficiency is apparent. Farmers are trying to get N on the wheat now to offset some of those losses. Also, we’re seeing powdery mildew.”
David Hydrick, Hydrick’s Crop Consulting, Inc., Jonesboro, Ark.: “We started planting corn today (3/13) and a bunch of growers will get started right away. We’re in the midst of finishing spring herbicide applications in the wheat and either have started or are about to start our second midseason application. Most wheat isn’t jointing but some is approaching jointing.”
Howard Small Jr., Ind. Consultant, Colquitt, Ga.: “We’ve planted our first corn and have about a 1-inch sprout now. That soil is at 62 (3/13), although we still had wet, cold dirt in places this morning, maybe 52 to 53. Corn acres will be up. Cotton acres will maybe go up from what was expected but at least be status quo. With peanuts, everyone is still squabbling over the price.
“All this rain in February has really helped our aquifer levels. Starting on February 11, it rained for over a week. At the lowest, our local monitoring well was down to 46.5, but it’s at 15 feet now and will probably settle at 20 to 20.5. There’s little way we could pump it out enough to cause any kind of crisis this season, plus you can still see plenty of surface water ponding in fields and low places. We got another 1.5 to 1.7 inches the other day.”
Erick Larson, Mississippi Extension Grain Specialist: “We’ve had a lot of corn planted in the south Delta on some sandier soils, particularly last week. A little rain last weekend took any planting progress out of the picture this week. It’s been cold and relatively wet, and not much is going on with the wheat. We had that dry spell last week, but things are pretty saturated again.
“It’s been wet most of the time since January 1, and wheat in poorly drained areas and flat ground isn’t looking good. Then you add the cold weather, which isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, as long as you avoid freeze damage. I saw some leaf burn earlier this week but didn’t find wheat advanced enough with head development to expect sterility issues, although we may see some minor stem injury. Wheat, in general, is behind schedule compared to normal and certainly behind compared to last year.”
Jason Kelley, Arkansas Extension Grain Specialist: “South Arkansas is just getting cranked up again with corn planting after rain and colder temperatures put things on hold again. It’s 60 today (3/13), and the forecast says we’ll get up to 70 later in the week. Winds are blowing, which is drying things up pretty quickly. Some areas are still a little wet, but by Saturday I expect a lot of planters will be running.
“Growers are trying to get the last of the fertilizer on the wheat. It’s suppose to rain next week, with maybe a little chance on Sunday, so everyone is pushing to wrap up fertilizer and any late-season weed control. Some are still putting out 2,4D and Harmony, but a lot of wheat is getting too big for 2,4D. Even some of our later varieties are starting to joint, so look closely to see if it’s still safe to make that application.”
Steve Schutz, Ind. Consultant, Coushatta, La.: “We’re 70% or more finished with corn planting from Shreveport to Natchitoches. In the Bradley Bottoms in southwest Arkansas they’re just getting started. Progress varies pretty widely, though, from some people who’ve planted several hundred acres to a few who are just setting equipment. We might see some seedlings breaking the ground around Natchitoches by the end of the week. It wouldn’t surprise me.
“In wheat, we’ve obviously got some yellow places and areas where plants didn’t tiller well. We haven’t had a cold winter, but it’s been cool enough to keep the soils that way. Even though it didn’t get wet until January, it definitely got wet once the rain started.
“Yellowing is more obvious on sandier ground. On heavier soils, wheat looks pretty good. Where we’re splitting nitrogen, we’re on the second application now (3/13). Even some of the wheat that was fertilized 2 weeks ago is greener than it was but not what you’d expect. These stands aren’t uniform. I’m not seeing any disease, just spots with fertilizer burn that might fool you at first.”
Randy Weisz, North Carolina Extension Wheat Specialist: “In general, the North Carolina wheat crop is a bit behind where we were at this time in 2011 and 2012. The cold and very wet conditions have resulted in wheat that is suffering from various degrees of winter cold damage. P-uptake difficulties are causing purpling tissue, plus lots of fields are in great need of N.
“I’m encouraging growers to get their spring topdress N applied as soon as possible to help pull the crop out of N stress, which would allow the plants to grow with every warm day we have coming up.
“We haven’t seen any diseases in wheat so far. Weather conditions continue to make us mindful of the potential for powdery mildew and stripe rust. But, so far, we haven’t seen signs of either. All growers should know what stripe rust looks like. Download our disease guide and take a look at page 13. If this develops, act quickly. I will send out a crop alert if stripe rust develops.
“Hessian fly are a bit more of an issue than normal. This is especially true in the eastern part of the state. Warm weather last fall and mild temperatures through most of the winter allowed multiple generations of this pest to grow in our wheat crop. If your wheat gets thinner, check for Hessian fly. Review our guidelines for further information.
Ashley Peters, Peters Crop Consulting, Crowville, Louisiana: “One grower this morning (3/13) said he probably was a little over halfway done with corn planting, and that may be about the average through here. Areas north of Interstate 20 and a little south of it didn’t get enough rain this last time to really stop us, barely enough to settle the dust. South and east of us we got 2 inches in places, but most of our guys were able to keep rolling.
“In wheat, a little disease is starting to show up in some of the oldest stands, but most of what I’m finding in uneventful. Overall, the crop is a mixed bag – some looks good, some doesn’t.”
Dewey Lee, Georgia Extension Grain Specialist: “Corn planting is a hit-and-miss proposition. Growers started back planting in places or getting ground prepared, but in a lot of cases they’re finding fields much wetter than expected. Soil temperatures are still cold in some areas. I just checked 2 inches deep in one place and the readings were 56 to 57.
“Compared to the same week in 2011 and 2012, it’s colder now. Along with the colder weather, we’ve had enough rain to keep soils wetter longer. The way farmers are approaching this varies. Some are cautious, starting slow. Others are full steam ahead.
“Wheat, you might say, is everywhere and nowhere. In some late-planted fields we’ve had extreme conditions, poor vernalization and struggling plants. On the other hand, we’ve also got plants that are lush, some lodging and cases where plants are more advanced than they should be. So, we sure don’t need a sharp drop in temperatures.
“A late freeze would be bad, and that’s on farmers’ minds. I don’t see any extremely low temperaturse in the near-term forecast. But as wheat advances in development, it doesn’t take as sharp a fall in temperatures to cause damage. Instead of it taking lows at 24 to 25, we’ve got wheat that could soon be at risk with lows at 27 or 28. In some fields, we’re 7 to 10 days from wheat heading, which is unusually early.
“Between those extremes – wheat planted too late and wheat planted too early – we’ve also got a lot in the middle.”
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