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How are 2021 crop conditions?

Sierra Day Field of corn
CORN PLANT: Regional agronomists say the 2021 corn crop overall is in good condition, even with some harsh weather this spring.
AgriGold agronomy panel shares how the corn crop is faring in different regions.

A common topic right now is how the 2021 crop is progressing and if it is on track for a successful harvest. An AgriGold agronomy panel shares regional crop updates.

The panel includes five regional agronomists: Jason Mefford, covering the northern half of Missouri; Josh Johnston, covering Kentucky; Kevin Gale, covering northern and eastern Illinois; Kris Young, covering Kansas; and Joe Stephan, covering northern Indiana.

Each offers a description of the crop conditions he is seeing in his area:

Mefford: Missouri has been a bit of a roller coaster this spring. Some corn went in right before Easter and the following week, which were some troubling days. We had a fair amount of replant from then, mainly because of such cool soils, hard freezes in mid-April, and some snow. Early-planted corn that did come up and do well is uneven. With the early-planted corn, we have had some stand loss, but not too drastic. At the end of April, we had a good planting window, and those stands look the best. A lot of corn and some beans were planted May 12 to 14, and then it rained basically every day from May 15 to June 1. So, majority of what got planted in mid-May has been replanted. We have not had any rain since June 1 and while we do have good moisture in the soil profile, we do need some rain in the next couple of weeks.

Johnston: We typically plant from April 1 to 21, but we got snowed out the night of April 20. Corn planted in that window took almost 20 days to come out of the ground and faced rare problems for the South, such as seed corn maggots. Since then, we have had some rain, and that crop has really shaped up. None of those stands are perfect, but probably all of them are better than 28,000 plants per acre. That corn will be tasseling next week and is probably one-third of the crop in this region. Another one-third of the crop got planted in the last two weeks of April but was followed by almost a three-week rainout from April 29 to May 12. I bet we replanted 90% of the corn planted in that window. From May 13 through 26, the rest of the crop was planted. About five days after planting, corn in that time frame was up, and stands were perfect. However, June has been cool and wet, so that corn has taken a major turn backward, so I’m concerned about the late-planted corn. Overall, I think we’ll be looking at an average crop this year due to enough corn planted in the early window.

Gale: Thinking about the Illinois corn crop, it is in good condition, and a lot of it ranges from V8 to V10. I think part of the reason why the crop is in good condition is because of good planting dates. Having over 50% of our corn planted by May 2 is a pretty good start. In terms of soybeans, 41% was planted by May 2, as opposed to the normal 14%. As far as replant issues, we’ve had significantly less replant than previous years. A lot of this is because of less rainfall than in 2019 and 2020. Overall, our condition is good, but we are going to need rain as we move forward into the rapid growth stage and pollination.

Young: We had more moisture toward the end of April and through May. As we’ve gotten into June, things have really warmed up. Our replant overall is low here in the west — replants were mainly due to poor stands or hail damage. At higher elevations in western Kansas, corn is anywhere from V5 to V7, while eastern Kansas and Oklahoma are seeing corn stages of V8 to V12. We’ve accumulated a lot of growth in the last 10 days, with above-average temperatures and a lot of humidity. I think the next two weeks are going to be extremely critical in this area. We’re not shown as a severe area on the Drought Monitor map, but we have some areas that missed rain and don’t have a real good profile. Going into tassel, if things don’t improve from a rain standpoint, then a lot of that corn will start to go backward.

Stephan: About 15% of the crop got planted in early April and survived with good stands. This corn is in the V8 growth stage. The second window was when 35% of the corn in Indiana was planted, and there were several days in late April through early May when it was cold. That corn is probably the most uneven in stands, but there was little replant in that time. In fact, Indiana typically has a lot of replant. In 2020, we had 10,000 units of corn replanted; however, this year replant will be under 500 bags total for the region. The corn planted May 15 and beyond is in good condition as well. That corn is already in the V3 through V5 stage range. Like the rest of the Corn Belt, I don’t think our subsoil moisture is as good as we would like to have in the spring. We catch an inch of rain, and three days later, it dries up again. It doesn’t take long to get rid of moisture, and hopefully that is not an issue as we move into what is typically the driest part of the summer.

Summary: Despite winter-like conditions in April, the majority of the 2021 crop seems to be on the right track. Recent warmth has encouraged growth, but farmers everywhere are hoping for rain in the forecast soon to make sure progress continues.

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