Corn planting in Kansas: Soil moisture and precipitation outlook for late April

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During the last week corn planting made some progress in Kansas. The eastern part of the state is now 40% planted (50% for the SE area) based on April 23, USDA-NASS information. The central districts will likely show substantial progress in the next report from the planting operations that took place this week. Corn planting progress is also starting to move in the same direction in western Kansas, with about 10% planted overall.

The short-term forecast for the next days is calling for more rain and low temperature conditions for our state. If this occurs, it will slow down the corn planting progress indefinitely. A summary of the past month’s precipitation gives us a good idea of soil moisture conditions at planting (Fig. 1). The largest departure from normal precipitation is in the southwest and eastern parts of the state.

Figure 1. Precipitation summary for the period from March 15-to-April 14, 2017.


For the next 7 days, April 28 to May 5, the outlook for precipitation (Fig. 2) shows a probability of receiving from 1.0 (in the northwestern region) to more than 3 inches of rain ( in the eastern part of the state), adding to the precipitation already received this past month. This will definitely slow down the soil drying process and impede any field work until conditions are more suitable for planting.

The outlook for the medium term (8-14 day, April 27 to May 5-11) is calling for a below-normal probability for precipitation in the eastern part of the state, normal probability for center corridor, and above-normal probability for the southwest corner (Fig. 3). A similar pattern is projected for the northern states of the Great Plains, but below-normal precipitation is projected for the rest of the Corn Belt.

Figure 2. 7-Day Outlook Precipitation Probability from April 28 – May 5, NOAA.

Figure 3. 8-14 Day Outlook Precipitation Probability from NOAA.


Optimal soil conditions have a large impact on corn uniformity and early-season growth. Lack of uniformity in emergence can greatly impact corn potential yields.

An open window for resuming corn planting may occur by late next week and the following week. It is always important to look for the best planting conditions. If possible, wait and plant under more uniform soil temperature and moisture conditions to guarantee a more uniform early-season stand of plants.

More information about 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