Corn Planting Way Ahead of Schedule

US - Corn farmers across the Midwest are planting their crops ahead of schedule this season, sharply contrasting last year's late planting start.
calendar icon 27 April 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

"April and May were very wet in the prime corn-planting states last year," said Agricultural Meteorologist Dale Mohler. "Planting was a month behind schedule, but near-perfect summer weather yielded a good crop last season." meteorologists suggest drier-than-normal early spring conditions helped farmers jump-start corn planting this year.

The USDA released a report on April 20 that said 19 per cent of the US corn crop was planted as of Tuesday. Only five per cent of the corn crop had been planted by mid-April 2009.

Rain in the Midwest through the end of the week could slow the near-record planting pace, in which 20 per cent of the crop was planted by mid- to late April.

An early start to corn planting doesn't necessarily mean an ideal final crop, and 2009's high yield despite a late start is a good example.

"The most important consideration for a good corn crop is the weather leading up to the harvest period," said Mr Mohler.

Consistent rain through the summer, ideally three-quarters to one inch of rain per week, and hot days with highs in the 80s, and nighttime lows in the 60s, can lead to the best corn yield.

The best weather for corn planting includes soil temperatures above 50 F and dry, warm conditions accompanied by slight rain.

Stretches of summer heat can stress the crop, diminishing yields, and Chief Long-Range Meteorologist Joe Bastardi is calling for this summer to be very hot nationwide, characterized by bouts of mid- to late-summer heat.

Stretches of cool weather can also plague the crop because it cannot mature fully by the fall harvest period.

The prime corn planting season in the midwestern US is between April 22 through May 13, with early planting beginning April 1. The corn harvesting period generally takes place October through November in the Midwest.

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