Arkansas Corn: What Are Yield Expectations of May Planted Crops?

    Across much of Arkansas, rainfall in March and April has delayed corn planting.  Driving across the state some areas have a fair amount of corn that was planted in a small window, but other areas have essentially not planted any corn or other crops due to wet soil conditions.

    As of April 25th, the Arkansas Agriculture Statistics Service indicated that only 35% of the anticipated 750,000 corn acres had been planted, well behind the 5-year average planting of 67%.

    Corn Planting Progress for Week Ending April 24, 2022

    Stage This Week % Last Week % Last Year % 5-Yr Avg %
    Corn Planted 35 26 66 67
    Corn Emerged 23 13 39 44

    Rain that occurred early this week will likely keep planters out of the field until later this week or beyond. With a later than anticipated corn planting scenario, questions are steadily coming in about “what is the yield potential of late April (best case scenario) or early to mid-May planted corn?” 

    From numerous planting date studies conducted on irrigated corn from 2008 to 2015 and including data from other relevant agronomic trials from 2016 to 2021, a summary of expected relative yield potential by the week of planting date for irrigated corn grown in Northeast, Central, and South Arkansas is listed below. 

    Planting Date Week
    Northeast (Keiser)
    % Relative Yield
    Central (Marianna)
    % Relative Yield
    Southeast (Rohwer)
    % Relative Yield
    April 24-30 100 100 99
    May 1-7 98 97 95
    May 8-14 93 91 90
    May 15-21 88 85 84
    May 22-28 82 80 78

    The ultimate yield achieved is determined by many factors besides planting date including weather, hybrid, and implementation of timely inputs such as herbicides, fertilizer, irrigation, and a timely harvest.

    In our corn research verification program, we have had a limited number of fields planted in May (nine fields across the state) over the past 14 years. Planting dates and corresponding yields are shown in the table below. These yields are whole field averages and were produced following normal extension recommendations.

    May Planted Corn Research Verification Fields and Yields (2008-2020)

    Planting Date Yield (bu/acre)
    1-May 209
    1-May 198
    2-May 195
    3-May 214
    7-May 228
    12-May 146
    18-May 142
    18-May 214
    20-May 202

    This data highlights that good yields can be achieved from late planting with proper management but also highlights that yield variability can occur if inputs are not applied timely.

    Management Considerations for Late Planted Corn

    Hybrid Maturity and Selection:  In past studies, yields of hybrids with a relative maturity of 114-120 days generally provided greater yields than earlier maturing hybrids regardless if planted in March, April or May. However, keep in mind that the drydown period for late-planted corn will be in September, and field drying may be slow during that time, especially for full-season hybrids.

    A harvest date for a 114-day maturity hybrid at 18% grain moisture could be a full week earlier than a full 120-day maturity hybrid. Another consideration is plant height and lodging resistance. Late planting generally leads to taller plants compared to early plantings and that can increase lodging potential. Extremely tall hybrids or hybrids that are prone to late-season lodging should be avoided.

    Plant population:  A recommended final plant population of approximately 32,000 plants/acre is still desired with late planting. However with late planting, a higher percentage of plants may emerge, so the seeding rate may be able to be reduced slightly and still reach the desired population. Plant populations higher than recommended may unnecessarily increase late-season lodging potential for some hybrids.

    Irrigation:  Timely and proper irrigation is needed for successful late-planted corn most years. Typically, from past experiences, May planted corn often requires 1 or 2 more furrow irrigations or 2-3 pivot irrigations compared to a normal late March or early April planting date.

    Foliar Fungicide:  Foliar diseases such as southern rust will more likely have the potential to be a yield-limiting factor in late-planted corn. Typically, March or April planted corn may “outrun” southern rust, but with corn maturity pushed back, the risk of southern rust being a yield reducer is real. Budget for a foliar fungicide application for disease control. 

    Prevented Planting Information (Scott Stiles)

    Some producers will likely consider filing Prevented Planting claims for corn this year. The map below shows the crop insurance final planting dates for corn in Arkansas. The final planting date varies by county, with the majority of the state covered under April 25th. However, the final planting date is May 1 for 10 counties across northern Arkansas.

    Map of Arkansas counties indicating the final corn planting date for crop insurance. Counties in yellow have a date of May 1. Counties in green have a date of April 25

    Crop Insurance “Final Planting Date,” Corn. Click Image to Enlarge

    • End of Late Planting Period is May 10 for counties with April 25 Final Planting Date.
    • End of Late Planting Period is May 16 for counties with May 1 Final Planting Date.

    After the “Final Planting Date” (April 25 for a majority of the state, or May 1 (for 10 northern counties) there are a few options to consider:

    1. Late planting of the intended crop is an option after the “Final Plant Date”. There is a 1% per day coverage reduction after the “Final Planting Date” for the length of the “Late Planting Period” (15 days for corn in Arkansas).
    2. If the acres are deemed eligible*, the insured will receive 100% of the Prevented Planting (PP) indemnity if acres are left idle.
      • APH (actual production history yield) is not impacted by prevent plant; if there are planted acres within the field, a weighted average will determine APH.
    3. On a corn-intended field deemed PP, a 2nd crop may be planted after the Final Planting Date. Consult your insurance agent on how soon a 2nd crop can be planted after the Final Planting Date.
      • The 2nd crop must be insured
      • The insured is due 35% of the corn PP indemnity, 35% of the premium will be billed.
      • 60% of the approved yield within the producer’s database will determine APH.
      • If a 2nd crop is planted before the Late Planting Period, PP may not be declared for the original crop, with no premium or indemnity due.

    The above information serves as a general guide. Your crop insurance agent is the most qualified resource to help you determine Prevented Planting eligibility.

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