“In places, people were planting yesterday, and I don’t think we got enough rain to keep us from planting in the area where I live. Right now, I think people are planting as hard as they can in front of this next rain where it’s dry enough.
“I run DD-60s for five days after planting, and our DD-60 forecast at this point looks really good. My minimum to plant is between 20 and 25. Anything less than 16 is terrible, which is where it’s been until just now. We hadn’t even reached a fair planting forecast previously, but temperatures are warming up this week. We now have a very good planting forecast. We simply need dry weather to get the planters out.
“NASS (National Agriculture Statistical Service) surveyed agents on Friday and released the report on Monday. Monday afternoon they said we had about 3% of our cotton acres planted. I didn’t think it would be quite that high, but I knew that farmers had covered at least a few acres.
“Plenty of people were planting cotton yesterday, I think. It was a bit too wet first thing yesterday morning for some to get in the field, but more were probably running yesterday afternoon where it was dry enough. To an extent, we’re rolling the dice in front of a big rain. We’re hoping, of course, that we can miss the rain and that we’ll be busy this weekend planting cotton.
“Some corn planting continues, based on several reports on social media. I’m thinking that those growers are still pushing to plant all their intended corn acreage.”
Phillip McKibben, McKibben Ag Services, Mathiston, Mississippi:
“Everything has been exceptionally wet. We’ve received over 50 inches of rain so far this year in places – and our annual rainfall is about 55 inches. It’s interesting that the area we work in the hills – Calhoun, Chickasaw, Webster and Clay Counties – has received 20 inches more rain than the area that we work in Tallahatchie County.
“Although we only got about half our intended corn crop planted, we’re probably finished with corn now.
“Cotton is not behind in this area. We prefer to get our cotton in the ground in the first 10-12 days of May, and that is a possibility if everything goes well this year. I think our cotton acreage is going to be really close to what it was last year. However, if the rain continues and delays planting, some cotton acres may shift to beans, but it will be late May or even June before we begin to make those decisions.
“Less than 10% of our soybeans have been planted. Right now, we’re hoping for a stand where we’ve planted.
“We’re behind on land prep for the sweet potatoes, but most of the fields have been burned down. We always like to have fertilizer applied and the ground rowed up by May 1, but that won’t happen this year.”
Tyson Raper, Cotton and Small Grain Specialist, University of Tennessee:
“I’m not aware of any substantial cotton acres that have been planted yet in Tennessee. Everyone is setting up planters to get prepared. The station has planted a few small plots but no substantial acreage to speak of has been planted.
“Everyone seems to be waiting for this front to move through before they start. The forecast says to expect three-quarters to over an inch of rain tonight (4/28) and tomorrow, with warmer temperatures following. With all the recent rain, it won’t hurt to miss this one. I suspect we’ll start moving into cotton in a big way by the end of this week, and we will be working a lot in the fields next week.”
Bill Brooks, Mid-South Farmers Cooperative, Alamo, Tennessee:
“Coming out of winter, everyone was talking about corn and cotton and how much they expected to plant. But about two months ago, potential cotton acres started sliding, and growers began canceling some cottonseed orders. Then a month ago, corn acres started sliding as well. We’re still seeing both corn and cotton acres decrease as we get closer to May.
“Another big rain is in the forecast for tomorrow night (4/28). In addition to past planting delays due to rain, the market outlook remaining weak or uncertain, and ethanol plants being throttled down, there is lots of pressure to quit corn. So far, only 30% of our expected corn acres, at best, have been planted.
“One thing after another has hammered these markets, and that’s driving farmers’ indecision regarding their planting choices, maybe more so than ever in my memory. It’s difficult to make any crop pencil without figuring in an above-average yield and that’s aggravated by the uncertainty we are experiencing due to Covid-19.
“Intended soybean acres have been on the rise, with a few acres of ‘early beans’ already in the ground.
“I think cotton acres will be down at least 30% from the intended acres planned over the winter. We look to start cotton planting around the May 1 if the weather is suitable. It’s been a tough start for sure and obstacles abound as we look forward, but I’ll have to commend our area growers. They are looking for ways to succeed and get past this. They show up every day, work with their employees and make plans to get the job done. It’s inspiring and I’m proud to be a part of this industry in these uncertain times.”
Dale Wells, Ind. Cotton Services, Inc., Leachville, Arkansas:
“We just started back in the fields today (4/27) planting cotton, corn, and peanuts. Currently, we have planted about 95% of our corn. We are still trying to get in the last 5%. However, it’s going into fields that are being leveled and we are waiting on the dirt pans to finish. Our plan is to stay with corn on that ground instead of switching to other crops.
“Cotton, corn and peanut acres have increased a little this year because of land changes where we’ve swapped out heavier soil for lighter ground. The increase is certainly not due to the price of cotton, but the ground is just better suited for these crops.
“My farmers aren’t planning to plant any soybeans unless something goes really awry.