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Monday, February 27, 2017

When to Plant Corn

Sorry I have been away.  Influenza A is the culprit.

Warm and dry weather has many farmers anxious to plant.  In some ways conditions seem similar to 2012, although in 2012, the drought began in 2011.

In general, early planting is one way to combat drought.  Get the corn pollinated before weather gets extreme.  In my opinion, April 1 is considered early in Central Illinois.  If soil conditions are favorable, starting planting the last week of March is pushing the envelope, but may be OK depending on the 15 day forecast.

In 2012, I know there was corn planted as early as March 9.  The yields on that corn was disappointing.  I think the problem was frost in mid-April.  Frost in in mid-April is not uncommon.  My meteorologist tells me that was dry  weather does not reduce the chances of a mid-April frost, so in deciding when to plant you need to consider the potential for frost.  Modern corn hybrids seem to be much more tolerant of cold conditions and even frost, but when the frost gets to the growing point, it can do damage  even if it does not kill the plant.  The growing point seems to move above ground as the corn grows from V3 to V4 according to Dr. Nielsen's Illustrations.

Warm and dry weather will speed up germination and emergence, so that could be a factor in determining ideal planting date.

Another factor to consider is fluffy soil syndrome.  The syndrome is discussed in the latest Journ of Soil and Water Conservation.  Fluffy soil syndrome will cause uneven emergence which can reduce yields.  Tilling shallow or not at all can help avoid the issue.  Tilling deeper in dry weather creates pockets of variable moisture that can cause uneven stands.

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