Frozen Corn Offering a Do-Over


A few producers across the state elected to double-dog dare NC State Extension Corn Specialist Dr. Ron Heiniger’s advice and go ahead and plant corn early.  Thanks to a hard freeze the week of March 13th, those producers now have fields of frozen corn plants:

“There’s a few that went ahead and planted in early March, and we had said that there was still some cold weather coming, don’t get in a hurry.   And by George we were right, there was more cold weather there.  Somebody asked me about that corn, and yes, it will come back, but you’ve already reduced yield potential, because anytime you nip off the leaves, especially when it’s young like that, where it was trying to establish, it really has to struggle.  It’s probably going to have a little more yield impact than they would have liked.”

Heiniger says that while frozen crops probably will come back and go on to produce, the calendar is favorable to replanting:

“Well, that’s a good question right there.  They are in some of a quandary there, how much yield potential did they lose versus replanting, and actually it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to replant given that you’ve probably lost 30% of your yield potential there.  Particularly if it only had a couple of leaves out and then got hit hard, you’ve still got full yield potential here with replanting.  Usually, when we talk about replanting, it’s usually a later date, and your replanting potential isn’t as good as if you’d planted early.  But, that’s not the case here, your full yield potential is still in front of you.”

With that being said, Heiniger is still standing behind his earlier advice to wait on planting:

“Yeah, I am.  I don’t want folks to get in such big hurry this year.  That’s tough on them, a lot of them are eager and ready to go, and I don’t want to discourage them from planting in March when conditions are good, it’s hard to argue against planting.  The issue is silking, getting rain at silking time, is just critical to yield.

This year the pattern is such that recommends that our dry weather is going to be in late May to the middle of June, and if we’re planting right now that’s when our silking is going to be is the middle of June.

So, if they could just wait a little while longer, I think they’ll be better off.”

All in all, managing risk is the name of the game:

“You’ve got to protect risk.  So, there’s a good chance that one of the things that could be a good idea this year is plant a little here while you’re ready to go and the weather’s good, get a good stand, wait a little more,  then plant a little later.  I know that really drags out the season but that really…in a year like this, would help us cover risk as well as maintain yield potential.” 

So, with corn planting still weeks away, Heiniger has a few suggestions as to how the time can be spent:

“Definitely, get your soil situation right, get your planter right.  Like what we said in meetings this year, planting day is Super Bowl day for farmers.  I mean, that’s the most important day of the season.  What they do on planting day dictates their yields, if they can’t get uniform, quick emergence, they’ve already lsot their chance at maximum yield.

So, get the planter ready, get the fertility ready.  We also, at meeting this year talked about these minor elements like magnesium, zinc, and boron.  Good chance here to pay close attention to your balance, how those look on your soil test. 

Boron, we don’t usually have a soil test for that, but look at what your situation is, add a little boron, $4 treatment, if you make an extra bushel, then you’ve paid for it. So, half pound of boron is about $4 an acre.  So, that’s what they should really be doing right now, really getting prepared.  I think they could take this extra time to make sure you’re fully prepared, got all your bases covered.  And, I think that’s the best use of this time right now, is really honing in on the details.”


For more from Dr. Ron Heiniger, NC State Corn Specialist visit SFNToday dot com.

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.