When traveling to Extension-sponsored meetings, Ken Smith says he normally expects to speak to smallish crowds for about an hour. But at a meeting in Crawfordsville, Ark., on May 22, the Arkansas Extension weed scientist spoke to a packed house for well over two hours.
The main subject covered by Smith and Extension colleagues? What producers should do about replanting.
“There were a bunch of questions,” says Smith. “We ran down options as best we could. I'll say this: farmers are a resilient bunch. There were plenty of long faces at the meeting, but they seemed to be taking everything in stride with positive attitudes. They wanted to move on and were ready to do it.”
Replanting is an issue following repeated drenching rains that fell over much of the Delta. Following the weather systems, some areas of Arkansas looked like “one big lake,” says Smith.
But while excess water was the ultimate reason for replanting, the water affected crops differently.
“Some crops were underwater for too long and some of it was just so wet that fertilizer or other things weren't put on,” says Smith. “So we're replanting some fields that actually weren't underwater. I talked with some farmers this morning (May 29) who are plowing their fields up. They're going over the land with Roundup, plowing and then planting soybeans.”
Some Arkansas producers even lost rice that stayed underwater for too long. Such an occurrence, says Smith, is “pretty rare.”
But most of the land that needs replanting was in cotton, corn and grain sorghum.
At the May 22 meeting, Extension personnel tried to advise producers to look at their herbicide programs and see what crops they could replant with.
“We gave them a rundown on herbicide restrictions. If they had Dual down, they're okay. If they've got atrazine down, then soybeans are out. If Facet has been put out, they're out of luck with soybeans because you must wait 300 days. We went through all the labels, crop injury, and what they could do in specific circumstances.”
Regarding replanting, Smith says a typical question is: “‘I've got a rice field that's been underwater and will likely be submerged for another week. What do I do?’ Those types of questions are easy to answer: don't do anything until the water drops and you can get a good look. If the crop is laying flat and there are lots of dead plants, then replanting must be considered.”
But if sufficient numbers of rice plants remain alive, then hang on. Those plants will likely turn around and be okay, says Smith.
“Plants may even be laying on the ground. But if they're still alive and given the chance, they'll straighten up.”
Another typical producer query of Smith: “‘If we do replant rice, what varieties should we use? Should we go with short-season varieties or stay with the longer-season varieties?’ Our data shows that, even under these conditions, longer season varieties are best.”
By replanting how much yield will be lost? “We can't guarantee anything. But data shows that planting this late cuts yields. If normally you cut 160 bushels, planting now will probably drop you to between 130 bushels and 140 bushels.”
On cotton, Smith says he's often asked if Staple has been applied, what can be done?
“Well, you can go with STS soybeans or more cotton. Farmers will also ask, ‘What if I've got cotton that needs to be replanted and Cotoran or some soil-applied herbicide has been applied earlier? Should I put down another herbicide or will some of what was applied earlier still be working in the field?’ The unfortunate answer is that you aren't going to get any help from herbicides applied earlier.”
Smith says agents are seeing quite a few replanted acres going into grain sorghum.
“I haven't seen any corn going in, but grain sorghum is going in a bunch of acres as are soybeans.”
On the morning of May 29, Smith talked with a county agent from the Crawfordsville, Ark., area.
“We try and stay in close contact with the areas hardest hit with the rains. He told me there are a lot of soybeans that have already been replanted.
“He thought that 90-plus percent of all the cotton to be replanted in the area had already been put in the dirt. So, after the meeting, producers seemed to have moved very quickly.
“I doubt many producers took off for Memorial Day.”