As in other Delta states, cool, wet conditions have delayed corn and soybean planting in Tennessee.

“Because of the weather, we’re behind in planting — at least a week to 10 days,” said Angela Thompson, Tennessee soybean and corn specialist on May 9. “Last year, we had 25 percent of our corn planted in March compared to very little this year.”

Thompson said the state has between 90 and 95 percent of its corn planted and about 20 percent of its soybeans.

“We had some Group 3s and 4s planted earlier than normal. Some of those beans were hit by the cool weather. We don’t usually plant beans until the third week of April. West Tennessee didn’t experience many killing frosts compared to the rest of the state. So that region’s soybeans escaped most of the frost damage we’ve seen.”

Thompson said Tennessee will have about 600,000 acres of corn — a bit lower than last year.

“With soybeans, even with some producers saying they’re cutting back due to the threat of Asian soybean rust, I think acreage will still be over 1 million acres.

“We’re monitoring over 25 soybean sentinel plots — along with kudzu and snap beans — for Asian rust. We began last week. I’d hoped to be watching the sentinel plots a few weeks ago. But because it’s been so cold and wet, the plots had a hard time coming up. The plots are just now at the point where we’ve got enough plant material to sample.”

Louisiana rice

Because of unseasonably cool temperatures, Louisiana’s rice crop is off to a slow start. “We’re way below the number of heat units we should have accumulated,” said Johnny Saichuk, Louisiana Extension rice specialist. “We’re about 300 heat units behind where we should be. That has the crop crawling along.”

But warmer forecasts for the week of May 9 “have us hoping for good things. Weather that will be less comfortable for us to work and sleep in is probably just what the rice needs.”

Lately, rain hasn’t been in the weather mix for Louisiana. “We’ve been extremely dry in much of the state. Many producers have had to do a lot of pumping. Some have had to flush two or three times to get some of the later-planted rice up. That’s particularly true in the northeast.

“Lack of rain hasn’t been the problem for us. Sunshine is good for the rice crop. The cold night temperatures are what set us back. We sure don’t want what we had last year with rain setting in mid-April and not stopping for over a month.”

Saichuk is beginning to hear reports of rice weevil pressure. “It’s been light until now and that’s a function of cooler temperatures as well. But that’s changing because some fields are being sprayed.”

Regarding acreage, Saichuk said the southern part of the state may be “off a little. So, in contrast to USDA’s prediction of 550,000 rice acres, I think we’ll be around 535,000 acres.”

e-mail: dbennett@primediabusiness.com