This summer’s heat wave has moved even late-planted corn onto the fast track to harvest.

“A lot of the later-planted or replanted corn – where it has been irrigated – looks good,” said Jason Kelley, Extension wheat and small grains agronomist for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, on Monday.

Because of spring flooding, many acres of corn were planted as late as the first week of June. “That’s a month later than they would normally plant.”

Kelley said that corn planted in March generally takes about 140 to 150 days from planting to harvest, but that the hot summer “can accelerate the maturity rate for corn. You gain some days when it’s so warm – the corn will really grow rapidly.

“If we plant the first week of June, we might be able to knock off 25-30 days from the time it is planted to harvest, compared to a March planting. The corn comes up more quickly. Where it might need two weeks to come up in March, it might come up in four days in June.”

The Arkansas corn harvest could begin as early as this week.

Kevin Lawson, Extension corn verification associate, said irrigation to verification plots in Chicot County had been shut off, and a plot in Drew County likely requires only one more irrigation.

Lawson expected plots in Conway and Mississippi counties could be ready in late July.

The downside for late corn is a potentially reduced yield.

“Last year, in our planting date studies, we found maximum yields were maintained until mid-May and after that, yields declined about 1 bushel per day for each day in delay of planting past mid-May,” said Lawson.

According to estimates released June 30 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, area planted to corn in Arkansas was at 500,000 acres, up 28 percent from the 2010 corn acreage. Farmers intend to harvest 480,000 acres of corn for grain in the fall.

For more information on crop production, visit www.uaex.edu, arkansascrops.com or contact your county Extension office.