Improved genetics and seed treatments allow today’s corn grower to plant much earlier than in the past.
And research has shown that earlier planted corn has the potential to produce higher yields than corn planted two to three weeks later.
But, according to Channel Seeds agronomist Rich Peters of Elkhorn, Nebraska, planting corn in the western Corn Belt in early April is a whole new ballgame.
“This is earlier than early,” Peters says, “so there isn’t a lot of data to support that this early of planting is going to be different than if we planted after the 15th of April.
“It is a little bit of uncharted waters that we’re going into right now.”
Peters talks about some of his concerns with planting corn this early.
“When we look at things like getting a cold rain on recently planted corn or soybeans, and that cold water imbibing into that kernel, we can always have the effect of corkscrewing or something else going on with that plant—just because of that kind of condition,” Peters says.
“We still have that possibility. Early spring weather doesn’t always predict three weeks from now—so we always have a little concern there.”
Peters says insects and weeds are also confused by the early spring weather. He says he’s seeing some things now—pea aphids, alfalfa weevil and black cutworm, for example—that wouldn’t normally show up until late April or early May.