Planting corn early vs. yellow corn syndrome dilemma begins

Planting corn early vs. yellow corn syndrome dilemma begins

Corn Illustrated: There will be wrong days for planting corn, you just don't know when!

Some of you already have corn in the ground, especially in Illinois and certain part of more northern states where soils dried out due to skimpy rainfall amounts earlier in April. Some of you are yet to plant a grain.

Corn Illustrated 4/21: Seed companies pay big money to include corn hybrids in variety tests

Are you better off playing the historic averages that show early-planted corn fares better, or watching soil temperature when deciding to plant corn?

Pumpkin-yellow corn: It didn't look like a good start in this field, although the weather turned around, and it made over 220 bushels per acre. Photo courtesy of Scott Gabbard, Shelby County, Indiana, Extension ag educator.

According to Bob Nielsen, Purdue University Extension corn specialist, 55 degrees F is when the soil is right to plant corn. Now in his fourth decade of advising farmers about corn growing techniques, he believes that's what's needed for corn to germinate successfully.

Wait too long and if the rains return, the calendar can clip off days at a fast pace in May, or so it seems. Go too early and you may end up with corn that sprouts, gets out of the ground, but then turns yellow as it doesn't have the temperatures it needs to engage photosynthesis and grow properly.

Somewhere along the line in all this strategic planning there will be a couple of days when you would have been better off leaving the planter in the shed. Timing will work out such that cool weather, rainy weather, cloudy days or a combination of all three results in poor emergence and inconsistent stands.

Corn Illustrated 4/14: When to plant corn: Waiting on the magic number of 55 degrees F

The big dilemma, of course, is knowing when those days are. In reality, it's virtually impossible to guess them in advance. But it is the reason why some don't plant at this time of the year when a storm system followed by a cool down is prominent in the near-term forecast. They would rather play the odds of waiting until the system passes and hope there isn't one behind it, turning a three or four day delay into a three week delay.

Have fun making decisions. And remember hindsight is 20-20, but you have to make the call in advance. Good luck!


From the corn hybrid you select to the seeding rate and row width you choose, every decision you make influences the size and scope for corn yields. Download our FREE report: Maximizing Your Corn Yield.


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