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Mid-South corn planting moving at furious pace

With producers trying to beat the rain and a closing planting window, corn is being planted in Louisiana and Arkansas fields at breakneck speed.

“We're already a little behind in our planting — maybe a week due to it being so wet earlier this spring,” says David Lanclos, Louisiana Extension corn and sorghum specialist. “We've planted a lot of acres (during the first four days of April) — probably 100,000 acres. Rain is forecast in a couple of days, though.”

Lanclos says how long it stays away “will make or break our acreage. What happens in the next few days will be key. We'll either have an average crop — the usual 500,000 acres — or, if rain stays away and we can continue planting, we'll get every bit of 525,000 to 550,000 acres. It all depends on the rain.”

Even if the rain arrives, Lanclos doesn't foresee Louisiana having more than a 5 percent to 10 percent reduction in corn acreage. A week ago, he wouldn't have said that, “but so many planters are working it's amazing.”

That's not to say some farmers haven't given up on corn, though. Some have told Lanclos they're going to cotton and grain sorghum. The window for planting corn in south Louisiana has closed — or is dangerously close to it. In north Louisiana, corn planting is still “zooming along.”

“Right now, we have optimum moisture for corn planting. That's great because we do a great deal of dryland corn. Most of the irrigated corn is in the northeast part of the state. Assuming we usually have 500,000 acres of corn, we normally have 100,000 to 175,000 irrigated acres and the rest is dryland.”

Arkansas is also experiencing heavy planting.

“Corn planting is going full bore here,” says Jeremy Ross, Arkansas Extension corn verification program coordinator. “It would be nice for rain to hold off for a couple more days so everyone can get their seed in. I think we're around 70 percent planted. Maybe 10 percent of the final total will be dryland.”

While no major problems have popped up, there have been a few blips on the screen. “We've been seeing some cutworms,” says Glenn Studebaker, Arkansas Extension entomologist. “Almost all of the pests have been seen in no-till corn that didn't have an in-furrow insecticide or a band of pyrethroid behind the planter.”


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