Compared to the last two growing seasons, there are “a heck of a lot more smiles” from Arkansas corn producers in 2010, says Jason Kelley, Arkansas Extension corn and wheat specialist.
This spring, growers have been “able to get the crop in on time and are getting good stands in warm weather. Of course, there’s been some flooding (since late April). But until then, things were going great. A lot of the corn planted in mid-March is knee-high/thigh-high.”
USDA estimates the state will plant around 350,000 acres in corn. “That’s down a bit. I imagine rice and soybeans picked up those acres. Whatever the acreage, it wasn’t because we didn’t have an opportunity to plant. The drop in corn price probably didn’t help.”
Those hit hard by early May storms may not just be dealing with flooding. “There was also some hail damage in fields and that will mean some replanting. Unfortunately, the same area that was hit with hail around Lonoke, Ark., in 2009 (for more, see Hail hammers Arkansas crops) was hit again.”
For the corn that went underwater, “there are questions about the plants’ health. Some corn was under for two or three days in 80 degrees. That’s not good. Those fields can lose nitrogen, lose herbicides — a lot can go wrong.”
Some estimates claim that 50,000 acres (not just corn) — mostly Arkansas’ northeast and east — were underwater at some point this spring.
“Before the (recent) rains hit, growers were putting out fertilizer left and right,” said Kelley. “The way this corn crop has been growing, we’re not far from having the fertilizer and herbicides out and looking to irrigate.”
Weeds are always an issue and “these rains aren’t helping. There will likely be weed escapes — get 10 inches of rain and atrazine will probably play out quickly. Growers need to be looking for late-emerging morning-glories.”
What about the Arkansas wheat crop?
“Every day it looks a bit better. Back at the first of March, I wouldn’t have guessed that. But the warm, dry weather really perked it up. From the road, there are some good-looking fields. But it can be deceptive — get out and walk in them and some are pretty thin.
“If we can muster some favorable weather from here on, I think the wheat crop will be better than anticipated. However, it’s a long way from getting it in the bin, from being safe. Last year, about this time, the rains set in and ruined a lot of the crop.”