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Corn planting information from Rome Ethredge

Here is some important and useful information for folks that are planning to plant corn in Georgia over the next few weeks. It’s from Rome Ethredge in his Georgia Grain News newsletter. Remember that you can get soil temperature information from the UGA weather network at http://www.georgiaweather.net/?content=tr&variable=XS .

Corn Planting

Folks are getting planters ready and making sure everything is in working order. Here’s some good planting info, mostly from the UGA Corn production guide.

Do not underestimate the importance of good plant stands. Improper establishment will have a negative impact on yield as corn can be sensitive to planting depth, thick or thin populations, highly variable spacing, and delayed emergence. Inspect and service your planter and replace worn parts. Utilize the expertise that planter companies have to gain insights on properly adjusting all parts to changing soil and weather conditions as to optimize the operation.

Ensure that coulters and disc openers are aligned accurately and the planter is level when you begin planting. Calibrate the planter for a proper seed drop. Make sure seed is between 1.5 and 2 inches deep. Avoid too much down pressure especially when wet but make sure the furrow is closed properly. Check your speed to ensure that seed spacing is correct so as to avoid differences in plant emergence. Speed can increase your stand spacing so optimize your planting speed according to your seed density and the ability to reduce the spacing differences at seed drop.

Avoid planting when soil temperatures drop below 55 F. Variable plant emergence can reduce yields as much as 10 to 20% depending on the establishment delay of neighboring plants. Delayed plants cannot compete with older, better established plants. A field where all plants emerge within 12 to 24 hours of the first emerging plant is considered a successful stand that may provide a high yield potential for you to manage.

Plant corn as soon as temperature and moisture become favorable for seed germination and seedling growth. Soil temperature in the seed zone should be 55°F or greater before planting. Corn seed will sprout slowly at 55°F while germination is prompt at 60°F. One should delay planting if cold weather drops soil temperatures below 55°F at the two-inch soil level. It is generally safe to plant if soil temperatures are 55°F and higher, and warm temperatures are in the forecast. Extremely early planting introduces a risk to frost or freeze damage and subsequent loss of stands. Usually, as long as the growing point is below ground level, corn can withstand a severe frost or freezing damage without yield reduction. It is best therefore to monitor soil conditions and weather if your desire is to plant as early as possible. Generally, it takes corn seed 7 to 12 days to emerge when planted in soils at 55°F.

Early-planted corn typically out-yields late-planted corn. Depending on your location, planting dates may range from early March in south-Georgia to mid-May in north Georgia. Early planting helps avoid periods of low rainfall and excessive heat during pollination, both of which lead to internal water stress during critical periods of corn development.

Right now (9 am on Friday, Feb 21) we have 2 inch soil temperature of 49, going back in order last 5 days were 61, 67, 65, 59, 54, average 2 inch soil temperature in Seminole County, Ga . So soil temp is pretty good but will likely drop this weekend.  We don’t want to plant when too wet as we’ll get side wall compaction and other problems that aren’t good.  Avoid planting when big rains or hard cold are in the 3 day forecast.

Source: Valerie Everett, Commons Wikimedia