Finally Time to Plant Corn


Finally, we can safely say that winter is over, and if the corn planter isn’t moving, it should be says NC State Corn Specialist Dr. Ron Heiniger:

“Yeah, that’s exactly right.  This weather did us a favor last week and slowed us down, but now it’s time…if you had any question as to whether to get started planting, now’s the time.  It’s time to get started here, I’m enthusiastic about what this weather looks like over the next week and a half, so we’re needing to get some corn in the ground now.

I wouldn’t be in a hurry to get it planted in a day or two, I think we do have a window of opportunity here, but now’s the time to get started.”

And most of the state doesn’t have significant rain in the forecast for at least a week:

“This is the perfect forecast, you want one, two, three days of uniform temperature and consistent soil moisture and you can’t ask for a better situation than what we’ve got right here, and our soil moisture is right, at the moment.  You just can’t pass on a gold opportunity like we’ve got here this week.”

Speaking of moisture and little rain in the forecast, Heiniger says most producers should have adequate moisture to plant:

“There are some places that didn’t get much out of these rainfall events that we had last week, they’re not dry, I’d say at this stage, but they certainly have that potential if it stays in the 80’s here of getting on the dry side. 

So, that again, argues for getting in timely here and taking advantage of where we’re at with soil moisture.  And it wouldn’t take the outlook here, for me at least, has been that we’d be warm, which we certainly are, and on the dry side, so for those Coastal Plain soils where they tend to be a little dry natured anyway  why, you want to take advantage of times here where you have moisture from here on out.”

While Heiniger has been preaching for some months for corn growers to wait until now to plant, there are those that did not heed that advice:

“They’re probably, to some degree, than the average bear, and know that I’m not right all the time, so they covered the risk, or they thought about the issue of timely rainfall and stuff, so yes, we’ve had some corn going in the ground.  Certainly, these heavy rainfall events we had last week didn’t help that corn very much, it certainly delayed it. 

We put plots in, I didn’t follow my own advice very well either, so I put the plots in, and have been disappointed so far in how that corn has emerged, and is coming along.  So, indeed, it has been something of a rougher start but to some extent that’s going to play out over the next several months, because I think that corn is going to hit dry weather at the wrong time.” 

Uniformity at emergence is another topic we’ve heard Heiniger expand on time and again.  He explains that the up and down weather of the last 10 days or so is what interrupts that uniformity:

“Some of this early corn caught that cold and wet, then warm and drier, those fluctuating conditions, that really lead to the non-uniformity, or un-uniformity of emergence.  And that’s certainly what we’re seeing in our plot data where we planted early, this corn coming up very spotty and not very uniform.  So, indeed, those conditions are just not the best for getting that uniformity in emergence, and indeed that’s what you’re after when you’re planting, that’s why I’m so excited about this week and the way this weather looks because you want this corn uniform.  Those plants compete with each other, if one gets a little advantage why it’s at an advantage all season long.  And it’ll have a big ear, and the one beside it will have none.”

Dr. Ron Heiniger, NC State Extension Corn Specialist.

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.