Seminole Crop E News

Agricultural News for Farmers and Agribusiness in SW Georgia

Corn Planting Time?

Posted by romeethredge on February 18, 2013

Plant corn as soon as temperature and moisture become favorable for seed germination and seedling growth. Soil temperature in the seed zone should be 55 degrees F or greater before planting. Corn seed will sprout slowly at 55 degrees F while germination is prompt at 60 degrees F. Delay planting if cold weather drops soil temperatures below 55 degrees F at the two-inch level. However, if soil temperatures are 55 degrees F and higher, and projections are for a warming trend, corn planting can proceed.

With our weather station at the Donalsonville airport, we can keep close tabs on the soil temperature. As of this writing, Monday Feb 18 at 10:15 am,(it reads every 15 minutes), the 2 inch soil temperature is 48 degrees. The last three days averaged as follows, Feb 15 – 55.5 degrees, Feb. 16 – 53.8 degrees, Feb 17 – 51.8 degrees. So we’re a little cool still. Go to to access the weather station.

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Extremely early planting introduces a risk to frost or freeze damage and subsequent loss of stands. Usually, as long as the growing point is below ground level, corn can withstand a severe frost or freezing damage without yield reduction. It is best therefore to monitor soil conditions and weather if your desire is to plant as early as possible. Generally it takes corn seed 7 to 12 days to emerge when planted in soils that are 55 degrees F.

Early planted corn out-yields late planted corn. Early March in south Georgia is usually our best time. Early planting helps avoid periods of low rainfall and excessive heat during pollination, both of which lead to internal water stress during critical periods of corn development. Early planting is essential when double cropping soybeans, grain sorghum, millet or vegetables following irrigated corn.

As planting is delayed into the summer, corn yields decline. In general, yields decline at ¾ a bushel per day rising to about 2.5 bushels per day. Studies in Tifton, under irrigation, demonstrate that yields of stress tolerant and disease resistant hybrids are about 50% of normal when planted in late May or early June. Therefore, late planting is very risky with a high degree of failure.


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