“Since September, rain has been with us every week. One estimate is that 4,000 acres of cotton are still in the field, and some of that will still be picked. But there also were 10,000 to 12,000 acres of beans that were never harvested.
“And now, planting has been held up again by rain. Some growers did manage to plant all the corn they wanted and 70% of the stands are fair to good. But a whole lot needed to be replanted and a significant part of that will be abandoned and planted in beans.
“Some of our cotton has been planted, too, and it’s just cracking the ground. We’re not quite in a panic mode yet. Up until a May 10 planting date, there’s no potential yield loss. But with every delay now, we’re losing flexibility with cotton and nobody wants to fool with beans.
“We were going to have more cotton, anyway, and those acres were coming out of corn and soybeans. We’re still seeing a portion of our acreage moving away from corn simply due to wild hog damage. Some producers who regularly grew 1,000 acres of corn every year are now down to 300, all due to hogs.
“Where I have growers in Arkansas, they couldn’t plant corn and will end up planting cotton on those acres. It’s a tight situation for them because the closest gins aren’t taking on more growers. After that, the closest gin is 70 miles away.”
Darrin Dodds, Mississippi Cotton Specialist:
“Some folks started planting here and there last week, especially in the Delta. But then rain came through that Thursday and put a lot of planting on hold. A few growers started back on Sunday and then more on Monday.
“So, we’re still very much on the front end of this, with more rain in the forecast. I think people will continue running until lunch today (5/1) and then check the forecast and decide what to do.”
Dan Fromme, Louisiana Extension Cotton And Corn Specialist:
“Planting definitely kicked off this week and people are moving fast. Prior to this week, not much happened. In places, growers are finishing corn.
“We’re due to get rain, which probably will shut things down for a while. But on the positive side, temperatures are fantastic. Overall, we’ll have a lot more corn and a lot fewer beans this year.
“Cotton acres will be up, especially in the northern part of the state. I’m sensing plenty of optimism among farmers. With corn, a significant amount was planted in the last 2 weeks of March and the first week of April before rain hit again. Most of our corn is at least in the ground now.
“Where people are still planting corn, it’s in north Louisiana and these probably are cases where farmers have contracts. It was seriously wet in Louisiana from October to mid-March but it also was unreal how many acres of corn people planted in 14 to 17 days.”
Bill Robertson, Arkansas Extension Cotton Specialist:
“Cotton planting is under way but how much people have done varies widely from some who’ve yet to put the first seed in the ground to others who are at least halfway done.
“I’m working with one farmer in a variety trial and out of 1,000 acres of cotton the only thing he had left to plant today (5/1) was my trial. We’re further along in the southern part of the state. It’s been a little drier and warmer than in our central and northeastern counties, and some of those same areas are getting hammered by rain again.
“Even in southeast Arkansas where we finished that trial today, it was raining by noon. It wasn’t heavy and planters were still running, but rain has sure been the dominate feature of this planting season.
“Nothing was easy last year and this is largely a repeat. The wind has been blowing like crazy, too, which is complicating herbicide work. One guy had to stop planting and try to catch up on those treatments. People are putting in water furrows, too, because of the rain that’s coming. Herbicides deserve priority. We sure can’t get caught without them being in place before this rain starts.
“USDA’s planting estimate – based on the survey late last week – had us at 5% planted, which seemed about right since we hardly planted any cotton in April. However, a ton of people started planting last Saturday and covered more ground this week. With all that, though, I would seriously doubt that more than 20% has been planted yet. By comparison, USDA’s report for that same week in 2018 had us at 2% planted.”
Tyson Raper, Cotton And Small Grain Specialist, University of Tennessee:
“Most growers are running today (5/1), some faster than others. A front is coming through at the end of the week, although I don’t think we fully know yet how much it will rain or when it begins and ends. So, there’s an element of uncertainty.
“Some growers are holding back or are only planting up to a point. Others, though, are trying to get in as many acres as possible before the rain starts. One way or the other, we’re definitely planting cotton.
“There’s a lot of ‘noise’ out there about how many acres we’ll finally have. More people seem to think it will be up and a lot also say they’ll plant about what they did in 2018. Some, though, do expect to be down. So, it’s still a fluid situation.
“Based on experience, when we have a good cotton planting window we tend to end up with a little more cotton than expected. I suspect we may be up a little compared to last year but I don’t believe we’ll go above 375,000 acres.
“There are concerns about seed quality and I hope we don’t stress these seedlings too much. Fortunately, we do have this good planting window.
“We tend to plant enough seed and typically only need one to two plants per foot to make a profitable crop. If you’re seeding at 3.5 seed per foot, we should be able to achieve adequate stands and profitable yields, even with some marginal seed quality. It hasn’t been a very cool, wet planting window up to this point, which is a positive. We should be okay if warmer conditions continue and moisture is adequate but not excessive.”
Ashley Peters, Peters Crop Consulting, Crowville, Louisiana:
“We’re planting everything everywhere, it seems. I probably have some guys who haven’t begun planting cotton yet and others who’ve just started. On the other hand, some are pretty far along. One grower said today (5/1) that he’s 75% done.