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Arkansas Corn and Grain Sorghum Weekly Update – March 20, 2015
Author: Arkansas Row Crops

Corn and Grain Sorghum Update – Dr Jason Kelley (Wheat and Feed Grains Specialist)

Wet weather continues to delay corn planting across the state with more rain anticipated over the next few days.  Soils are still relatively cool (low to mid 50’s) for planting corn and are definitely too cool to plant grain sorghum.  Past research on corn planting date studies have shown that with irrigation we can plant through the entire month of April and still maintain maximum yields.  Hopefully next week will bring drier weather so we can get started planting corn.  Grain sorghum acreage looks to greatly expand this year (potentially doubling from last year).  Grain sorghum is not as cold tolerant as corn and producers should hold off on planting grain sorghum until soil temperatures warm to approximately 60 degrees F.  In past years, April plantings have produced the highest yields and been the most profitable.

Corn and Grain Sorghum Research Verification – Kevin Lawson (Corn & GS Verification Coordinator)

None of the verification fields have been planted yet.  I took soil temperature readings in several places this week and we are right in that 52 to 55 degree range.   The big problem right now is the wet weather.  Many of the cooperators took advantage of the nice weather earlier in the winter and did some tillage.  Most of the fields are ready to fertilize, hip and plant.  There will be 8 corn and 3 grain sorghum fields entered in the research verification program for 2015. The corn fields include Clay (2 fields), Cross, Lee, Lincoln, Lonoke, Pope and St Francis Counties.  Two of the fields (Lonoke and Pope) will be conventional (non-GMO) fields.  Chicot and Jefferson Counties will have irrigated grain sorghum fields, and Prairie County will have a non-irrigated grain sorghum field.  Corn verification fields have historically been planted around the first week in April (~ April 8 the last five years) and grain sorghum verification fields a week later (~ April 17 the last five years).

Southeast Arkansas Update – Wes Kirkpatrick (Desha County)

Soil temperature on March 18 at mid-morning was near 55 degrees.  If the ground was dry enough to plant corn, there’d be planters running.  Anticipated planted corn acres in Desha County will be lower than last season.  Grain sorghum planted acres may be up slightly compared to last season.

Central Arkansas Update – Anthony Whittington (Jefferson County)

The ground in Jefferson County is still saturated with standing water in places and no field work is taking place from what I have seen.  Soil temperature is at 52 degrees.  A lot of planes are up in the in air the last few days, not sure if its wheat fertilizer or burndown going out.  With upcoming rain approaching it may be a while before any planting takes place. Looks like there will be an increase in grain sorghum in the county this season.

Northeast Arkansas Update – Stewart Runsick (Clay County)

The area around Corning received over 4.5 inches of precipitation last week (March 9-13) and fields are saturated with localized flooding occurring.  Standing water can be observed in many fields. The soil temperature is around 50 degrees. Burndown applications are on the books and will start going out as soon as the standing water is gone.   Corn acres are projected to be less than last year with an increase likely in grain sorghum acres.

River Valley Update – Kevin VanPelt (Conway County)

We are very wet in the River Valley. About half the corn acreage has had aerial burndown treatments applied in the last couple of weeks, but some producers are holding off because of water standing in fields. A few producers were able to get preplant fertilizer out and disked in on some of their corn acreage earlier in the year.

Heat Units

The following table shows the heat units for the week compared to the 30 year average.  Heat units really accumulated with the warm temps the first of the week, but fell off the last few days with the cold front coming through.  All locations were warmer this week than the 30 year average.  In 2014, it took an average of 150 heat units for the corn verification fields to emerge.  Looking at the heat accumulation in Southeast AR so far, it would take about two weeks for corn to emerge right now.


Southeast, AR (McGehee)

Central, AR

(Des Arc)

Northeast, AR (Jonesboro) River Valley (Morrilton)


30 Year 2015 30 Year 2015 30 Year 2015

30 Year

Mar 14


8.0 7.5 6.0 4.5 5.0 7.5


Mar 15


8.0 10.5 6.0 9.0 5.0 11.0


Mar 16


8.0 12.5 6.5 11.0 5.0 11.5


Mar 17

19.0 8.5 11.5 6.5 9.5 5.5 15.0


Mar 18


8.5 1.5 6.5 0.0 5.5 3.5


Mar 19


8.5 4.0 7.0 3.0 5.5 7.5


Mar 20


9.0 6.5 7.0 4.5 6.0 8.5




59 54 46 42 38 65



Twitter – Jason Kelley @AR_Feedgrains, Kevin Lawson @ar_cornverify

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