This field of corn sprouting near Hillsboro was planted between rain showers, but the field shows the effect of the above-normal moisture that has drenched the areas this spring.
Rain and cool weather have delayed corn planting to the point this year that Marion County farmers only have a ?small window of opportunity left? to get it done.
?Not only is that window small, but it?s rapidly getting smaller all of the time,? said Rickey Roberts, Marion County agricultural extenson agent. ?For some guys, it?s already just too late to plant corn.?
Kraig Roozeboom, Kansas State University research and crop production specialist, said most farmers in south-central, east-central and southeast Kansas like to have corn planted by early to mid-April.
The liklihood of big yield reductions with late planting is a bigger concern than the possibility of freeze damage because of the corn maturing too late into the fall, Roozeboom said.
?For most of Kansas, corn yield reductions will not be significant unless planting is delayed until mid-May or later.
?Be prepared for a 10 to 50 percent yield reduction if planting gets much later than that, depending on the location and growing season,? he added. ?Greater yield reductions occur the longer plantng is delayed, but every year is different.?
Roberts said the decision whether to plant corn is going to depend on the individual farm operation and its producer.
For instance, if the farmer also produces cattle, the corn could be planted and put into silage to feed the cattle if the grain doesn?t mature in time.
The farmer could decide to plant an alternate crop. That could be a sorghum forage to graze with cattle or put up as silage with some of the same advantages as corn.
Roberts said in Marion County many farmers will be thinking this week about switching ground to grow other crops, especially if cool, wet conditions continue.
In this area, he said, those alternatives most likely would be milo or soybeans. A producer may decide which one, he said, according to what applications have already been made in the field.
For instance, if fertilizer was applied pre-plant for corn, the farmer may choose to plant milo or sorghum grain instead. If fertilizer normally is applied at planting time on that farm, Roberts said the producer may want to plant soybeans, a nitrogen-fixing legume, and save fertilizer costs.
Besides sorghum grain, soybeans or forage, Roozeboom said producers may want to consider sunflowers or cotton as late crops to substitute for corn.
Roberts said those are unlikely to be the choices for most farmers in this county, judging by past choices.
Roozeboom said farmers also will need to stay aware of rotational restrictions because of herbicide carryover, and of crop change insurance implications. He suggested that producers check with their crop insurance representatives before making changes.
Roberts said decisions also will be made according to the type of ground the producer farms.
Doug Shoup, K-State Southeast Area crops and soils specialist, said, ?We usually recommend that upland soils be planted by mid-April. River bottom soils with a deeper profile and greater water-holding capacity can be planted through the first week or two of May with a relatively high probability of success.?
Roozeboom said farmers could switch to an earlier maturing shorter-season hybrid corn variety, but should probably stick with familiar varieties unless they are concerned about running out of growing season.
The Kansas Agricultural Statisitics Service reported May 11 that 45 percent of the state?s corn had been planted compared with a 76 percent average for this time of year.
For south-central Kansas, the agency reported only 13 percent of the corn crop had been planted.
Marion County farmers were saying only a few producers in this area were able to place some corn between rains.
Of the corn crop now emerging from the soil, KASS rated 54 percent to be in good to excellent condition, 36 percent in fair condition, and 10 percent in poor condition.
Andy Kleinsasser, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita, said with the prevailing pattern and time of year, most of Kansas can expect some moisture about every three days for the next two weeks.