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Is It Time To Plant Corn?

It seems as though the last round of cotton was just picked, but the 2014 crop season is upon us and corn planting is in the near future.

Those that have been able to get there fields prepared, which are few and far between, need to know the optimal time to start planting. We should plant corn as soon as temperatures and moisture become favorable for seed germination and seedling growth. Soil temperature in the seed zone should be 55 degrees F or greater before planting. Corn seed will sprout slowly at 55 degrees F while germination is prompt at 60 degrees F. Delay planting if cold weather drops soil temperatures below 55 degrees F at the two-inch level. However, if soil temperatures are 55 degrees F and higher, and projections are for a warming trend, corn planting can proceed.

You should check your local weather station by going to and accessing the station closest to you.  Here is a screenshot of the Shellman weather station for the past 4 days. If it weren’t wet, it would probably be borderline to plant with the 2 inch soil temperature averaging around 57 degrees. Also the 10 day forecast has it cooling off a little next week which would probably bring that average down. Generally it takes corn seed 7 to 12 days to emerge when planted in soils that are 55 degrees F.


Early planted corn out-yields late planted corn. Early March in south Georgia is usually our best time. 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. Early planting is essential when double cropping soybeans, grain sorghum, millet or vegetables following irrigated corn.

As planting is delayed into the summer, corn yields decline. In general, yields decline at ¾ a bushel per day rising to about 2.5 bushels per day. Studies in Tifton, under irrigation, demonstrate that yields of stress tolerant and disease resistant hybrids are about 50% of normal when planted in late May or early June. Therefore, late planting is very risky with a high degree of failure.

Contact your local Extension Agent for more info.