Planting season is moving a lot faster than normal in the Mississippi Delta and Mid-South, says Luke Gazaway, the Case IH crop production sales specialist who covers the territory from St. Louis through Memphis, down to New Orleans. With Gazaway’s post, we begin a new series of planting reports from Case IH crop specialists, who provide field support to customers and dealers throughout North America. Gazaway grew up on a family farm in northeast Arkansas, and has spent his entire life in agriculture, including a stint selling seed before he came to Case IH six years ago.
It seems like we’ve been planting since Christmas. In the middle part of my territory – central Mississippi and northern Louisiana – most corn is already 6 to 8 inches tall. Way down in southern Louisiana, I’d bet corn is only a few weeks from tassel. We’ve had a great year, with fairly dry conditions to start out, which let us get the crop in quick.
A large portion of the rice crop is in the ground and up, and due to the dry conditions, some guys are finding it necessary to “flush” (briefly flood the field with water) the fields to get enough moisture for the seed to emerge. This is the exact opposite from last year when a majority of the Mississippi Delta was dealing with record high rainfall and flooding. There’s some beans planted in central Mississippi and Arkansas, and the crop’s looking great. We’re running 10 to 15 degrees above normal, our highs have been close to 80.
In one area of the Delta, we had marginally wet planting conditions, and we used a 42-foot True Tandem® 330 Turbo and Steiger® Quadtrac® 600 to air out over 400 acres per day. We fluffed up the top 2 inches of soil to dry it out and prepare the seedbed, and got the crop in that much earlier to take advantage of the subsoil moisture that we had.
In the strip between Memphis and St. Louis, planting is moving northward quickly. Farmers are working the fields as hard as they can, as fast as they can go. The Case IH Early Riser® 1200 Series planters are definitely helping guys move faster. Corn’s going in the ground. Some corn is through emergence and already in the V2-V3 stage.
There aren’t many beans in the ground yet, so those are getting started, as is cotton. I’ve talked to two or three farmers who have started planting cotton, but most guys are waiting until April 15-20. Spring’s so early that they moved the crop insurance dates up by a week or so.
For the guys in the far northern part of the country, they need to be ready. Get all your decisions made quickly. Around the St. Louis area, we’re not used to working the ground until mid-March, but guys have been in the field since late February.
If the weather holds and the planting season keeps going at this rate, I think most growers will be done by May 1.
How far ahead is planting in your area? Will this year be the earliest you’ve ever put seed in the ground?