Farm Talk

May 1, 2013

Corn planting dates and cold temps cause concern


Parsons, Kansas — “The possibility of temperatures nearing 32 degrees or below, there is concern among producers for damage of the wheat head,” said Jill Scheidt, agronomy specialist with the University of Missouri Extension in Barton County. According to Bill Wiebold, state specialist with the University of Missouri Extension, wheat is the most sensitive to freezing temperatures when the heads are coming out and flowers are beginning to form. “To check for freeze damage, wait three days after the low temperature occurs, cut the stem open and locate the forming wheat head. It is normally white or a pale green or yellow color. If the head inside the stem has turned a brown color, freeze damage is likely to have occurred,” says Scheidt.

University of Missouri Extension cereal crops specialist Brent Myers and agronomy specialist Bill Wiebold advise growers not to plant too soon when soils begin to dry. Planting and other traffic will compact wet soil. Roots in compacted, wet soil can’t grow properly and are more vulnerable to disease.

Producers should not be overly worried about planting corn in late April. Significant yield losses in corn are not seen until planting after the first of June. “There’s no reason for alarm,” Wiebold says. “Reasonably high yields can be obtained when corn is planted in mid- to late May.” Potential yield losses occur slowly in corn planted during May and potential yield losses increase in corn planted in June due to non-ideal weather conditions occurring in July and August. Myers and Wiebold suggest that data indicates switching out of corn may not be wise even if planting is delayed until the end of May.

Due to frequent rains and low soil temperatures, corn planting was only eight percent complete by mid-April, compared to 37 percent this time in 2012. However, last year’s planting season should not be used as yardstick, Wiebold says. The average over recent years is only 17 percent.

Myers cautions growers against a hasty decision to switch corn acreage to other crops such as soybeans. Results vary among farmers and fields, but MU data indicates that there is still time to plant corn as intended. £