Recent rains and flooding have many Arkansas farmers cooling their heels. They would like to be preparing their land for planting corn, but weather-related problems have delayed tillage operations.

Much of the ground preparation would have been taken care of in the fall, but unfavorable weather conditions then conspired to cut that short, according to Jason Kelley, Extension agronomist/wheat and feed grains for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

In spring of 2007, farmers had planted 45 percent of the corn crop by March 25, compared to the five-year average of 14 percent. Kelley figures 5 percent or less of the crop will have been planted on March 25 this year.

“Last year, farmers were excited about high prices for corn and wanted to make sure they got it planted. Also, they were blessed with favorable weather for planting early,” Kelley explained. “At that time, we were just entering a two- or three-week period of dry, 80-degree weather. We were about two or three weeks ahead of schedule last year.”

Typically, the corn-planting season is the middle of March until the end of April.

“We still have plenty of time to plant corn without losing yield potential. That's the take-home message. But we need dry, warm and windy weather.”

Kelley thinks farmers this year will plant slightly less corn than they did last year.