Farm Progress

Mid-South planting progress -- here comes the sun.

Elton Robinson 1, Editor

May 9, 2014

6 Min Read

Somehow, Mid-South corn producers found opportunity to get most of their intended corn acres planted this spring, despite monsoon-like weather and historically cool temperatures. Here’s more from states:


“Most farmers are 70 percent to 75 percent complete on corn planting, depending on where you are in the state,” said Angela McClure, Extension corn and soybean specialist, University of Tennessee. “We’re still waiting on a few bottom fields to get ready, but we had some good drying weather this weekend (early May) and it looks like we’re going to have some good weather this week, so we should finish up a good bit of it.”

McClure said some of the state’s early-planted corn “was yellow for a little while, but is looking a lot better now. We’ve just had a slow start. With the temperatures finally in the 80s, things start should start looking a little better. We haven’t received a lot of calls about replanting, so it seems like what got planted is going to take hold.”

McClure said growers “are still trying to play catch-up on our herbicides and at-planting fertilizers. We’ve got soybeans going into the ground too.”


“It’s finally warming up,” said Dan Fromme, Extension corn and cotton specialist with the LSU AgCenter. “Believe it or not we’ve got some people in the central part of the state that started irrigating corn this past weekend. It’s gotten dry here already.”

Fromme noted that in April, “we had some flooding in corn, and parts of fields stood underwater for a while. Those fields were set back a little bit, but things are turning around.”

Dry, warm weather has improved the corn crop considerably, according to Fromme. He said some of the state’s early-planted corn is in the V-7 to V-8 stage.

Fromme, who is also the state’s Extension cotton specialist, said cotton planting in the state began the day after Easter.

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Jason Kelley, Arkansas Extension agronomist, wheat and feed grains, University of Arkansas, says corn planting is winding down quickly.

“It’s been a strung out planting season. We would get a day or two of dry weather and go plant. Then we would have a week or two of sitting and waiting. We planted some corn the first part of March, and we’re still planting in the first week in May.

“We’ve had some corn that took three weeks or more to come out of the ground. Overall, corn stands look pretty good, considering everything. After this week (of May 4) I think we will be finished planting the crop.”

Kelley says some producers didn’t get all their intended corn acres planted and have shifted to other crops.

“Right now we’re trying to get some fertilizer out on corn. A lot of the corn down in southeast Arkansas is at about V-4 to V-5. Some of the fields are little bit weedy and there some spraying going on.”

Kelly said the state’s wheat crop was adversely impacted by cool, wet conditions this spring. “To me the crop doesn’t look quite as good as it did a month or so ago. That’s not to say we don’t have some really good-looking fields, but where we didn’t have good drainage, some of those fields probably suffered.

Kelly believes that Arkansas corn acres will down about a third from last year. “Of course, last year we had more acres than we have had in a long time. So we were going to come down anyway, but the weather did impact us.”


“We’re slowly moving along,” said Erick Larson, Extension specialist for grain crops, Mississippi State University. “This week (May 5-11), there will be a considerable amount of corn planted, and hopefully most of the intentions will be finished up. We had some weeks where we had almost no progress and others where we scratched around a day or two here and there. The delays are not quite as bad as last year overall, especially if we are able to have a nice run this week. But it certainly has been challenging.”

Early planted corn has struggled in the cool weather, Larson said. “I saw some corn around Yazoo City that’s probably about 2 feet tall. Two years ago, during this week, we had corn in the same general area that was tasselling.

Larson says a lot of the corn in the central and northern Delta of Mississippi is about ready for a side dress application of nitrogen. “Growers who side-dressed nitrogen back in early April may have lost a substantial amount of it because of the high rainfall that we received during April, which was one of the wetter Aprils on record.”

Larson said weed control has been an issue this spring, particularly for ryegrass. “We have glyphosate-resistant ryegrass populations pretty much across this state now. It’s resistant to ALS herbicides as well. So there’s nothing that we can reliably control it with in the corn crop.

“We have to take extra measures in the fall through the late winter, up until the corn emerges, to get ryegrass under control. The wet, cool conditions that we had this spring seemed to have limited the effectiveness of some of our herbicide options on ryegrass.”

Larson said a ryegrass population of as little as one ryegrass plant per 7 square feet can reduce yield potential over 25 percent. “It can be extremely detrimental to yield.”

According to USDA, about 29 percent of the U.S. corn crop had been planted by May 4, compared with a 5-year average of 42 percent.

In the Mid-South, 68 percent of the Tennessee corn crop had been planted by the first week in May, a little ahead of last year’s pace, and slightly behind the 5-year average.

Louisiana corn acreage is about 99 percent planted compared to a 5-year average of 100 percent. Rice planting is also on pace with the 5-year average.

Louisiana made significant progress in cotton planting from the end of April to May 4, going from 17 percent planted to 47 percent planted.

Eighty-eight percent of Mississippi’s corn acreage had been planted by May 4 compared to a 5-year average of 96 percent.  Mississippi made significant progress in rice planting, going from 24 percent planted to 54 percent planted in one week. Only 17 percent of the state’s cotton acreage had been planted by May 4, compared to a 5-year average of 31 percent.

Tennessee as well was starting to catch up on corn planting prior to recent rains. The state’s corn crop is 68 percent planted compared to 53 percent the week before. Six percent of the state’s cotton acreage had been planted by May 4, which is a little under the 5-year average of 8 percent.

Arkansas made excellent progress planting corn from late April to early May, going from 74 percent planted to 84 percent planted.  The 5-year average is 92 percent.  Arkansas producers have planted 64 percent of their intended rice acres, compared to a 5-year average of 69 percent. Only 17 percent of the state’s cotton acreage was in the ground, compared to a 5-year average of 29 percent.

About the Author(s)

Elton Robinson 1

Editor, Delta Farm Press

Elton joined Delta Farm Press in March 1993, and was named editor of the publication in July 1997. He writes about agriculture-related issues for cotton, corn, soybean, rice and wheat producers in west Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and southeast Missouri. Elton worked as editor of a weekly community newspaper and wrote for a monthly cotton magazine prior to Delta Farm Press. Elton and his wife, Stephony, live in Atoka, Tenn., 30 miles north of Memphis. They have three grown sons, Ryan Robinson, Nick Gatlin and Will Gatlin.

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