Here in the middle of March, many producers are already putting corn in the ground. Dr. Ron Heiniger, NC State Extension specialist for corn says there’s a small risk for a late, damaging freeze:
“I think that’s still on the radar, for sure, and that’s the biggest problem with getting started this early, is getting a late freeze. Now, corn, of course, can tolerate some degree of cold weather, even in that first 10 days of April, we could probably get some level of freeze, probably not like that Easter freeze we had a few years ago, still it could tolerate a little cold freezing temperatures and come back from that.”
Heiniger says that the benefits of getting and early start far outweigh the risks:
“I corn, one thing you’d like to do is start as early as possible, that’s always been a good idea is to start as early as possible, and like I said earlier, I think this year’s given us an early opportunity, and I’m not so sure that that opportunity isn’t better than the danger of getting a late spring freeze on this early corn. I guess things could sure turn things around, I guess, in a hurry, but it sure hasn’t shown much inclination to do so, yet.”
Recent rains have made early planting possible according to Heiniger:
“Actually, our soil moisture isn’t’ too bad right now, we certainly not abundant as far as soil moisture, a little below average for this time of year, probably just a little below average for this time of year. It’s not too bad, last three, four, we’ve had some reasonably good rainfall, and it’s started to replenish these sub-soil moistures, but we certainly have enough out there to get a crop going.”
And Heiniger says that he’s witnessed the irrigation boom for corn acres:
“Yes, that’s probably one of the biggest trends these last six months, has been the increase in irrigation acres here in the state. In fact, probably would have seen more if irrigation companies have been overwhelmed, they’ve been putting them in as fast as they can, they just couldn’t meet the demand. Probably would have seen more, if we’d had more infrastructure support for those systems.”
Dr. Ron Heiniger, NC State Extension corn specialist on Inside Agriculture.
Image courtesy of alco.org.