Over the last few weeks, corn seed has gone into Mid-South soils at a frenetic pace. “The majority of our corn is planted and a lot of fields are already up,” says Jason Kelly, Arkansas Extension corn and wheat specialist. “The warm weather for the last two or three weeks allowed producers to get into the field, get in gear and really push planting. We’re probably a week or two ahead of schedule.”

Tennessee producers planted “quite a bit” of corn in March, says Angela Thompson, Extension soybean and corn specialist. “We’ve got a wide range of planting activity. I’d say some of our northern counties are at 5 percent planted and some of our southwestern counties are at 75 percent planted. It varies a lot, but our Mississippi River counties are well along the planting path.”

Mississippi is probably over 80 percent completed, says Erick Larson, Extension corn specialist. “We’re in a little early, perhaps a couple of weeks ahead of the norm. We’ve got quite a bit of corn already emerging.”

The biggest problem Mississippi could have, “is a field running out of moisture before the corn emerges. That’s especially a concern with any kind of spring tillage in a conventional growing system prior to planting. Stand problems associated with that lack of moisture may pop up. That problem will become evident if we don’t get rain in the very near future.”

Still, well over 70 percent of Mississippi’s corn is planted in a stale seedbed scenario, says Larson. Those fields, he says, “should be in pretty good shape.”

Louisiana’s corn planting has been, “pretty much, a flawless operation,” says David Lanclos. “Our corn is almost all in. I’m having a really hard time assessing acreage. I think Louisiana is a little down from last year, but I just don’t know for sure.”

There’s so much that’s been planted, it’s hard to tell what’s what, says the state corn and soybean specialist. “A bunch of seed hasn’t germinated yet and it’s hard to tell what’s been planted. In addition to all our corn being planted, a ton of soybean and sorghum acres have gone in already. Expert predictions have us at around 475,000 corn aces.

“Overall, I’m very pleased with our corn planting. We’ve had nice rains to activate pre-herbicides. Most of the corn I’ve been able to evaluate across the state is doing really well. Unlike last year, we haven’t had any problems with frost damage.”

Kelly says producers continue to be excited about high soybean prices.

“That helps explain why our corn acreage estimate is down a little,” he says. “But corn is going to get its fair share of the acreage. Producers are still planting it to help with nematodes.

“I’m also hearing that corn is going into some cotton ground for rotation. I spoke with a grower in Poinsett County who’s never grown corn before. He’s putting 300 or 400 acres of corn on his cotton ground.”

Last year, Arkansas’ ending corn acreage was right at 350,000 acres. This year, says Kelly, the state should to have around 280,000 to 290,000 acres.

Arkansas wheat

Arkansas’ wheat crop, says Kelly, “is looking really good – we’re at around 720,000 acres, a bump up from the earlier estimate of 680,000. That’s welcome because the price is up. Much of our wheat is in the boot or just about ready to head out. Weather conditions have been ideal for wheat over the last week – relatively cool with bright sunshine. “

Around Stuttgart, there is some beautiful wheat. “They got fertilizer out properly and it shows. There is a bit of disease showing up. A few fields in the Grand Prairie have been sprayed for stripe rust in the last couple of days.

“As far as leaf rust, you can look state-wide and find some. But the leaf rust hasn’t shown up at levels we feared a few weeks ago. Our dry conditions seem to have slowed the disease down.”

Last year, when wheat prices were down, producers weren’t as interested in fungicide applications. This year, though, because the crop looks great and prices are up, producers are in the field scouting and willing to spray.

“Get the prices up and that’s what happens,” says Kelly. “Everyone wants to protect their investment. That’s smart business.”

e-mail: dbennett@primediabusiness.com