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Agriculture Today

Corn plantings, potential yields on track after frosts, freezes

Corn plantings, potential yields on track after frosts, freezes
This Brazos Valley corn showed leaf burn after late frosts in early May, but should completely recover, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomist.

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Robert Burns
June 5, 2013
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COLLEGE STATION -- Though corn in some areas showed considerable damage from late frosts and freezes in April and early May, most is back on track, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomist.

“Cooler weather has delayed planting a little bit in the Panhandle, but now that we’ve warmed up, everything has taken off,” said Dr. Ronnie Schnell, AgriLife Extension agronomist specializing in corn and grain sorghum cropping systems, College Station.

Though most corn wasn’t planted or emerged yet in the High Plains, the frost damage to corn during early May in Central Texas and the Brazos Valley looked pretty dramatic, Schnell said. Leaves were yellowed and wilted in many low-lying areas, but even then the corn was at a growth stage where it recovered.

“The five-leaf stage is what we consider to be critical,” he said. “Before then, the growing point will be below the soil surface. After the five-leaf stage, it’s much more susceptible to damage. Everything was young enough that the growing points were protected. There was some leaf burn, foliage damage, but if it happens early, it generally does not have an effect on yield.”

The May 28 U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Texas Crop Progress Report, which is compiled from AgriLife Extension county agent reports, showed 95 percent of corn planted, with 44 percent rated as in good condition, 38 percent fair, 8 percent excellent, and the remainder in poor to very poor condition.

On an average year, Texas farmers produce more than 200 million bushels of corn on 2 million acres, according to a Texas A&M University Department of Soil and Crop Sciences summary.

Approximately 50 percent of Texas corn is grown in the Panhandle under irrigation, Schnell said.

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries for the week of May 22-28:

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Coastal Bend District, including Karnes County, reported isolated areas received heavy rain, but low soil-moisture levels challenged future production as temperatures rose and winds increased going into summer. Corn was tasseling, and sorghum heading. Much planted cotton had not yet emerged due to the dry conditions. A lot of failed cotton acreage was being replanted to sesame or grain sorghum. Pasture-grass growth slowed down. Ponds remained low in most areas due to lack of runoff. Livestock producers continued to cut herds.

AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Southwest District, including Wilson, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Bexar counties, reported from 2 to 5 inches of rain improved conditions enormously. Row crops were in good condition, and stock-water tanks caught a lot of runoff -- some were even filled. The rain allowed irrigators to stop running pivots, which saved them money daily. Most of the rain fell in the aquifer-recharge zones, which brought water levels up several feet. Corn greatly benefited from the rain and was tasseling. Grain sorghum neared heading in most fields. Pastures and rangeland showed significant improvement. Livestock were in good condition because water and forage were readily available. Scouting of pecan orchards revealed little casebearer activity.

Robert Burns has nearly 30 years’ experience writing about agriculture and agricultural-related research. He writes about Texas AgriLife Research and Texas AgriLife Extension Service activities at the Overton Center and centers in Stephenville and Temple.

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