Published at the Chat 'n Chew Cafe, March 2001
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Thoughts on Corn Planting Dates

R.L. (Bob) Nielsen
Agronomy Dept., Purdue Univ.
West Lafayette, IN 47907-1150
Email address:

As the end of March approaches, the anticipation of the start of another planting season is mounting among the faithful patrons of the Chat ‘n Chew Café. Even the excitement of NCAA basketball doesn’t hold a candle to the enthusiasm of the speculation about who will be the first to actually put corn in the ground instead of just pulling the planter around the neighborhood and agitating those trying to be patient about the whole thing.

Can you plant too early? Yes. Can you plant too late? Yes. Do you always know ahead of time when the ‘right’ time was to plant? Not always. What are the risks and benefits to early planting of corn?

Benefits of Early Planted Corn.

Risks of Early Planted Corn.

Typically cool soils from late March through mid-April often result in lengthy germination and emergence periods, as well as lengthy periods for early seedling development until the crop is established. It is not uncommon for emergence to take from two to three weeks after planting to occur, rather than a more desirable five to seven days. Uneven soil temperatures within the seed zone may result in uneven germination and emergence, causing potential yield losses of eight to ten percent.

Successful establishment of the plants’ permanent root systems (nodal roots) may also be delayed when soil temperatures are sub-optimal for root development. Until a plant’s permanent root system is established, the young seedling is very susceptible to damage to the kernel or mesocotyl. Such lengthy periods for early crop growth and development increase the young seedlings’ exposure to disease, insect and weather (especially frost) stresses. Plant death or stunting from such stresses can result in potential yield loss when ensuing stands of corn are less than optimum.

Check this out.A reminder from last year.

Hedging Your Bets.

KingCorn.orgFor other information about corn, take a look at the Corn Growers Guidebook on the World Wide Web at

It is the policy of the Purdue Agronomy Department that all persons shall have equal opportunity and access to its programs and facilities without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability. Purdue University is an Affirmative Action employer. This material may be available in alternative formats.
© 2001, Purdue University
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