Arkansas Corn, Sorghum: Irrigation Underway, Low Disease Levels

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

    Most producers in the delta have been irrigating corn this week. Most fields in south Arkansas have had at least one watering, while parts of central and northeast Arkansas were getting the first irrigation and some are still getting ready to irrigate. Tropical Storm Bill has had high expectations of good rainfall, but that has yet to materialize for the delta region.

    Foliar disease levels have been low so far this season despite above average rainfall. Today I did find some Northern Corn Leaf Blight on a susceptible hybrid, so producers still need to be scouting for disease development. No southern rust has been found in Arkansas yet.

    Much of the early planted grain sorghum is now heading or entering the boot stage in south and central portions of the state. Much of this sorghum will need a rainfall or irrigation this coming week to maximize yields. So far little grain sorghum has been irrigated due to the rainfall this spring, but many are getting ready to irrigate soon.

    Sorghum midge levels have been low in the early planted fields. Sugarcane aphids were found on grain sorghum in Chicot and Desha Counties in Southeast Arkansas last week and currently are the only counties that have sugarcane aphids in grain sorghum.

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

    Irrigation has started on all the fields.  Even with the rain scattered around from Tropical Storm Bill, it will only buy us a couple of extra days before the next irrigation starts.  As fields near reproductive stage, the water use by the plant is going up to 0.3 of an inch a day.

    With the predicted heat next week combined with the increased water use, irrigations could be as close as 4 to 5 days apart. Corn borer moth traps have been placed at the two non GMO fields and a weekly moth count will be included in the next few updates. Both of the grain sorghum fields are ready for irrigation also. Lawrence County received irrigation on June 16, and Jefferson County should receive irrigation in the next day or two if no rain.

    Corn Borer Moth Trap Counts:   Lonoke Co – 0 moths      Pope Co – 0 moths

    June 19 corn update

    Click Image to Enlarge

    June 19 gs update

    Click Image to Enlarge

    Southeast Arkansas Update – Wes Kirkpatrick (Desha County)  

    Currently, irrigation is the name of the game. Most corn is nearing brown silk if not already there. A few late planted acres should be at tassel next week.

    Central Arkansas Update – Anthony Whittington (Jefferson County)

    I am seeing a lot more tasseling this week throughout the county though some haven’t reached that point yet. The wells are definitely turned on with these higher temperatures. Both corn and grain sorghum looks good across the area.

    Northeast Arkansas Update – Stewart Runsick (Clay County)

    The earliest planted corn is tasseling.  There has been a lot of pre-tassel nitrogen applications this week.  Producers are waiting to irrigate pending the outcome of the storm predicted for the end of the week.  There are concerns about wind damage and green snap.  Most of the corn has been watered at least once and is looking good.  Areas of the county have received some rainfall this week.  It’s been pretty spotty.

    River Valley Update – Kevin VanPelt (Conway County)

    The growing conditions have been really good in the River Valley, especially with pollination occurring in the earlier planted fields this week. With warmer temperatures and timely showers, producers haven’t had to irrigate.

    Market Update – Scott Stiles (Economics Specialist)                         

    After making new contract lows Monday, new crop corn futures have recovered and are trading higher on the week. Heading into the close Thursday, the September and December contracts are trading about 12 cents above Monday’s lows at $3.64 and $3.73 respectively.

    Market direction since Tuesday has been driven by declining crop conditions and the prospect of more heavy rain moving across parts of the Corn Belt. The heaviest rains associated with Tropical Storm Bill are expected to track through southern parts of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio as well as Kentucky.

    In the cash market, corn and sorghum basis levels have been mostly steady this week at Mississippi river terminals.  New crop corn basis has averaged 5 cents under September futures for much of the week. Basis improved to “even” with futures Thursday morning at some locations.

    New crop sorghum basis has been very strong most of this week-in the range of 80 to 85 over December futures.  However, basis was showing weakness at some locations Thursday morning, turning 10 cents weaker.  There has been discussion this week of barge rates turning significantly higher.

    Both corn and sorghum had higher week-to-week sales in Thursday’s Export Sales report.  Japan and Mexico continue to be the top markets for U.S. corn.  China is the dominant buyer of U.S. sorghum, purchasing another 2.3 million bushels last week.

    What to Watch:

    Weather concerns and the upcoming June 30 Acreage report will continue to be key issues to follow.  Crops in the Midwest need some warmer and drier weather–which may arrive next week. At present, excessive rainfall is beginning to impact crop ratings. For the week ending June 14, U.S. corn condition ratings fell by 1 percentage point in the good-to-excellent categories to 73%.  This compares to 76% last year for the same week.  U.S. sorghum condition ratings were 67% good-to-excellent, compared to 53% last year.

    Private estimates indicate that anywhere from 500,000 to 1.0 million acres of corn did not get planted.  With early crop conditions still historically high, the trade is debating whether loss of acreage in that range is significant enough to materially affect prices. One could argue that yield is being lost as well given the continued wet conditions seen in key corn production areas.

    Follow NASS’ Crop Progress reports each Monday afternoon (3:00 CST) for adjustments in crop ratings.  The June 30 Acreage report will be of particular importance to market price direction for many commodities, including corn. Until June 30 it is likely the contract lows made earlier this week in corn will hold as key price support.

    Heat Units

    Temperatures and heat units were high at the beginning of the week, but one thing Tropical Storm Bill did bring was cooler temperatures at the end of the week.  But overall heat units are still well above the 30 year average.

    June 19 gdd

    Click Image to Enlarge

    The Latest

    Send press releases to

    View All Events

    [ecs-list-events limit="5" key="start date" order="asc"]
    Send press releases to

    View All Events