Planting of grain sorghum, oats and rice is progressing on or ahead of schedule nationwide, with only pockets of problems.
Oats Hit the Homestretch
Eighty-five percent of the nation’s oat crop was planted as of May 3, according to USDA’s latest Crop Progress report. That’s well ahead of the five-year average of 67%, and 56% at this time last year. All nine major oat-planting states, except Pennsylvania, are ahead of schedule, and oat planting in Texas is complete. Oat planting in four other states—Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota—is more than 90% completed.
Jonathan Kleinjan, Extension agronomist at South Dakota State University, said that the vast majority of South Dakota producers had their oats planted by April 15, and now the crop needs rain.
“There is moisture to get it started, but not all of the seed has germinated,” Kleinjan said. “Some fields look good and some don’t look so good, depending on the soil moisture at planting and whether the producer planted deep enough to reach the moisture. If we don’t get rain in the next month, I might start getting worried.”
In South Dakota, 54% of the oats had emerged, compared with the five-year average of 31%. Emergence in Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska was also well ahead of schedule.
Sorghum Planting to Pick Up
USDA’s latest Crop Progress report shows that 29% of the nation’s sorghum was planted as of May 3, on pace with the five-year average of 28%. Only two of the top 11 sorghum-producing states—Illinois and Louisiana—were more than 5 percentage points behind their five-year averages.
Both Illinois and Louisiana have been plagued with too much rain. Kansas, the nation’s largest producer of sorghum, has also been wet, but there’s still plenty of time to get the crop in the ground, said Stewart Duncan, Northeast Area Extension agronomist for Kansas State University.
“Maybe a little bit has gone in, but it’s early,” Duncan said. “We want the soil temperature at a minimum 60-65 degrees, and we time planting for summer rains because it is planted on dryland.”
Sorghum planting in Kansas typically takes place from about May 10 to June 20, but it should be in full swing around May 20. As of May 3, only 1% of the state’s sorghum was planted.
Rice More than Half Planted
Rice planting is also progressing on schedule, with 61% of the nation’s crop planted as of May 3, compared with the five-year average of 62%. And of the top six rice-producing states, only Louisiana and Missouri were lagging behind their five-year averages. Rice planting in Louisiana, at 88% complete, was only slightly behind its five-year average of 93%.
“Fieldwork picked up toward the end of week and will be fast-paced this week,” said Keith Fontenot, Louisiana State University Extension agent for Evangeline Parish. “Rice drill planting continued, and should be completed soon, with many ongoing herbicide and fertilizer applications followed by flood-up.”
Rain has delayed rice planting in Missouri, where only 6% of the state’s crop was in the ground, compared with an average of 37% and last year’s 16%. In California, however, where severe to exceptional drought continues unabated, some rice fields will lay fallow.
“As rice planting begins in the Sacramento Valley, farmers with senior water rights along the Sacramento River received final word that they will have 75% of their supply for the second year in a row,” according to the Chico Enterprise Record. “Those who divert from the Feather River will have their water cut by 50%. Farmers on the east side of the valley will face cuts from 30% to 60%, while those who buy water from the federal Central Valley Project will get no water for a second straight year.”
See the latest planting progress updates from USDA on AgWeb's interactive maps.
See what other farmers are saying about 2015 planting at AgWeb's Crop Comments.