Corn planting in Kansas: Current and predicted soil moisture and temperatures

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Corn planting in Kansas has slowed down or been delayed by recent soil moisture conditions. Soil temperatures for the past week (March 27-31) were less than or near 55 F in many areas of the state, excluding SE Kansas (Fig. 1). In addition, soil temperatures at 2-inch soil depth actually decreased by 1 to 6 degrees in many parts of the state over the past week (Fig. 2).

Figure 1. Average soil temperatures at 2-inch depth for the week of March 25-31, 2017.

Figure 2. Changes in weekly average soil temperatures at 2-inch depth for the week ending March 31 vs. the week ending March 24.


The precipitation summary for the past week is presented in Figure 3. Several parts of the state received precipitation more than 1 inch of precipitation, except for the NC portion of the state. In some areas, precipitation was more than 4 inches, with a maximum amount close to 6.5 inches in the east central portion of the state (Fig. 3).

Figure 3. Weekly precipitation summary for the week of March 25-31, 2017.


The precipitation outlook for the short-term (6-10 days, April 5 to 9) calls for a below-normal probability of precipitation for the state (Fig. 4). However, the medium-term outlook (8-14 day, April 7 to 13) is calling for above-normal probabilities for precipitation for the NC and NE regions).

Figure 4. 6-10 (upper panel) and 8-14 (lower panel) Day Outlook Precipitation Probability from NOAA.


For the next 7-days (until April 7), the outlook for precipitation shows a probability of receiving close to 1 to 1.5 inches of rain (Fig. 5), adding to the precipitation already received this past week. This will slow down the soil drying process and impede any field work until conditions are more suitable for planting.

Figure 5. 7-Day Outlook Precipitation Probability from March 31-April 7, NOAA.


As a reminder, soil conditions have a large impact on corn uniformity and early-growth. Lack of uniformity in emergence due to adverse soil conditions can greatly impact corn potential yields.

It seems that wet conditions will continue to affect early planting of corn in many areas of the state. If possible, wait and plant under more favorable soil temperature and moisture conditions to guarantee a more uniform early-season stand.

More information about the planting status of summer row crops will be provided in upcoming issues of the Agronomy eUpdate. Stay tuned!


Ignacio Ciampitti, Crop Production and Cropping Systems Specialist

Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library