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Agronomy Talk

E. Indiana & W. Ohio - Brent Minett, CCA

How Early Should I Plant Corn?

Published on Thursday, April 14, 2016

How early should I plant corn? We ask ourselves that question every spring because unfortunately, the correct answer is illusive. It really depends on many variables that we have very little ability to control. Below are a few factors to consider when trying to answer this question for your own farm: 

• Soil Temperature – measure the soil temperature at your targeted planting depth. The magic number for seed corn germination is 50°F. 

• Air Temperature – look at the forecast as soil temps approach 50°F. If the forecast calls for three to five days at 70°F or higher, go ahead and plant. It’s important that the first “drink of water” seed corn receives be a warm one. 

• Soil Conditions – sometimes we have to plant in less than ideal conditions. Early spring is not one of those times. The benefits of early planting don’t outweigh the impact of sidewall compaction, stand loss, and stand variability. 

• Calendar Date – every spring is different. Consider the above factors first and look at the calendar last. I do know there will be a wrong time to plant corn but it might be late May…we have no way of knowing until its already done. 

Planting date is just one factor influencing yield. Planting early pays, but only if we do it right. Have a safe spring!

Author: Brent Minett