Arkansas Corn, Sorghum: Heat Brings Rapid Crop Development

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

    Corn and grain sorghum are progressing rapidly to maturity with recent warm temperatures. Most of the early planted corn in south Arkansas is likely being irrigated for the last time this week or early next week. Later planted corn and corn in central and northeast Arkansas will still have one or more irrigations to reach maturity.

    Hot temperatures are also pushing grain sorghum maturity. Some of the earliest planted grain sorghum will likely be near maturity by the end of next week. For more information on irrigation termination on corn and grain sorghum, consult this article.

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

    All the fields were scouted this week to determine the progress of southern rust. The disease did not make any movement over the week, so no fungicides were recommended. The Clay – Yount and Lonoke County fields are the latest planted fields, and will continue to be scouted the next two weeks. Lincoln and Lee County need another irrigation and then will probably terminate irrigation next week. St Francis County is pivot irrigated, so it still needs at least two more pivot passes.

    The two grain sorghum fields were scouted for midge this week and no midge were found. Headworms were scouted in Jefferson County, and averaged 1.3 small worms per head. Aphids were also found on one plant in Jefferson County. Decided to scout again next week and reevaluate the insect numbers and determine treatment options.

    July 17 corn update

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    July 17 gs update

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    Southeast Arkansas Update – Wes Kirkpatrick (Desha County)

    Several acres of corn are nearing irrigation termination, if not already there. Grain sorghum is also close to irrigation termination. Sugarcane aphids have been treated on some acres and headworms are building.

    Central Arkansas Update – Anthony Whittington (Jefferson County)

    Corn crop is looking good in the area. Most of the corn is in a range from R2 blister to R5 dent. With these hot temps, that rain last week didn’t last long, and wells are turning back on. Scouting for midge, headworm, and sugarcane aphid is still underway in grain sorghum with most of the crop at flowering. 

    Northeast Arkansas Update – Stewart Runsick (Clay County) 

    Most of the corn is in the R4 to R5 growth stage.  The crop is using a lot of water so irrigation is the main thing right now.  Rain showers in the area have been spotty over the past week.  Southern rust has been detected at very low levels.  Grain Sorghum ranges from boot to ripening.  Pests in grain sorghum have been minimal up to this point.  We have not detected midge or sugarcane aphid yet.  Producers are irrigating grain sorghum now as well.  Overall the crops look really good.

    River Valley Update – Kevin VanPelt (Conway County)

    With temperatures in the high 90’s and no rain it’s getting dry in a hurry in the River Valley. Producers are starting to irrigate again. Southern Rust is also starting to show up in fields.

    Market Update – Scott Stiles (Economics Specialist)

    Market Summary:

    The chart below is a two year weekly chart for the CBOT December 2015 corn futures contract. Each vertical bar represents one week’s trading range. In the past four weeks the December contract has rallied over 90 cents at its’ peak and currently trades at the highest level since late June 2014. Needless to say, this rally represents a tremendous value and opportunity when multiplied for example by a 200 bushel corn yield.

    July 17 Table 1

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    Since June 30 the market has become more comfortable with the USDA’s assessment of corn acreage. The debate over yield is now at the forefront of market discussion and will most certainly continue well beyond the August 12 USDA supply/demand report. At this stage in the growing season it’s generally advisable to be no more than 50 to 60% sold in the cash market. The remaining unpriced bushels can be protected with December put options. In the event that market prices do continue to rally, physical bushels can be sold at a higher price.

    As of Thursday (7/16), a $4.50 December ’15 corn put option could be purchased for about 30 cents per bushel–providing a net floor of $4.20 less commissions/fees. An alternative to this strategy would be to sell the December futures contract. This is a riskier, more management intensive approach to hedging. Currently, the maintenance margin for corn is $1,250 per contract (5,000 bushels).

    Looking ahead, the trade expects corn crop ratings to improve in Monday’s Crop Progress report following a week of drying conditions and warmer temperatures in several key Corn Belt states. A one point improvement next week in the good-to-excellent percentage would take ratings up to 70%. Psychologically speaking, it would be difficult to push prices higher with condition ratings in the 70’s. There will be some hot temperatures through the Corn Belt into the weekend that are drawing some attention.

    Also included this week is a graph of new crop sorghum basis, which has been in full retreat since the latter half of June. The graph below includes data through July 10, but basis has continued to weaken further and today is about 15 cents over December corn futures at Mississippi river terminals. I suspect Arkansas’ shockingly high 500,000 sorghum acres revealed in the June 30 Acreage report was a negative factor for basis–implying there could be an overwhelming supply to move through the market this fall.

    As mentioned earlier, corn futures have rallied better than 90 cents off the mid-June lows. Sorghum export movement has been very slow in recent weeks. All these factors make for a very weak asis market.

    July 17 Table 2

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    Recap of USDA reports:

    FAS Export Sales:

    Grain Sorghum:

    Shipments of old crop (2014) sorghum recovered nicely last week, reaching the highest level since the week of May 28. China took delivery of 2.96 million bushels and South Korea received a small shipment of 1,575 bushels. Net Sales of sorghum need to pick up quickly to reach USDA’s export target of 350 million bushels. As of the week of July 9, total commitment stands at almost 331 million bushels.

    With just 7 weeks to go in the marketing year, weekly sales need to average a little over 2.7 million bushels. Weekly sales haven’t been at level since May of this year. There were no new crop sales last week. 


    Old crop corn shipments also improved last week reaching 44.6 million bushels; highest level since the week of April 30. The top destinations last week were Japan, Mexico and South Korea. In contrast to strong shipments, net sales hit a marketing low of 13 million bushels. A few cancellations were noted last week; the largest cancellation of 5.5 million bushels was by an “unknown” origin.

    The USDA’s export target is 1.85 billion bushels. Net Sales need to average 2.5 million bushels per week for the remaining 7 weeks of the marketing year. This should be easy to accomplish. The challenge will be shipping it all before August 31. Shipments will need to average 48.8 million bushels weekly.                              

    Heat Units 

    Heat units were above 30 year average this week. The state is averaging about 30 heat units a day. If we stay with these temperatures, this crop will progress towards harvest rapidly.

    July 17 gdd update

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