For most of us in Arkansas, the spring of 2020 has been one of the most challenging springs in recent times, even without considering the weather limitations that has delayed planting for many so far. Continued wet weather through late winter to now has limited corn and other crop planting across the state.
The exception would be parts of Northeast Arkansas where producers have been able to get a large portion of their corn planted. As of April 19, the Arkansas Agriculture Statistics Service indicated that only 37% of the anticipated 800,000 corn acres had been planted, even lagging behind the exceptionally late planting season of 2019.
Rain that occurred this week will likely keep planters out of the field until early next week. With later than anticipated planting, questions are steadily coming in about what is the yield potential of late April (best case scenario) or early-mid May planted corn?
From numerous planting date studies conducted on irrigated corn from 2008-2015 and including data from other relevant agronomic trials from 2016-2019, a summary of expected relative yield potential by planting date for irrigated corn grown in Northeast, Central, and Southeast Arkansas are listed below.
The ultimate yield achieved is determined by many factors in addition to planting date including; weather, hybrid, and implementation of timely inputs such as herbicides, fertilizer, irrigation, and a timely harvest.
In our corn research verification program we have had a limited number of fields that were planted in May (seven fields across the state) over the past 12 years. Planting dates and corresponding yields are shown below. These yields are whole field averages and were produced following normal extension recommendations.
This data highlights that good yields can be achieved from late planting with proper management, but also highlights that yield variability can occur if inputs are not applied timely.