What Is The Best Time To Plant Corn In Michigan?

Mar 18, 2014

Planting date research has shown that the optimum corn planting period for much of Michigan is the beginning to middle of May. There are no agronomic or economic advantages to planting corn before April 20.

The weather forecasters say that with so much ice and snow still present in Michigan that the likelihood of an earlier than normal start to the upcoming growing season is unlikely. This medium to long-term forecast predicts a general continuation of colder than normal temperatures. However, given the fact that Michigan weather is so unpredictable, it is time to review our corn planting time guidelines.

Together with soil moisture, the temperature determines the ideal planting time for many Michigan crops. The minimum threshold temperature for corn seed germination is 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the seed zone. Corn will germinate unevenly when soil temperatures are less than 50F. Thermal time from planting to emergence is approximately 115 growing degree days (GDDs) using the modified growing degree formula with air temperatures or about 119 GDDs based on soil temperatures. Uneven soil temperature can be caused by differences in soil texture, soil color, soil drainage, surface residue and seeding depth. When soils warm to the mid-50s or warmer, emergence will occur in seven days or less if soil moisture is adequate.

Previous planting date research by Michigan State University Extension specialists has consistently shown that there is no agronomic or economic advantage for planting corn before April 20 in Michigan. For much of Michigan, the optimum time to plant corn usually is from the beginning to the middle of May. Because of the shortness of this optimum planting period, most growers plant some corn before and after the optimum dates. If the field conditions are right and the calendar says late April, then plant corn if the soil temperature is above 50F. If, however, the soil conditions are not right, then delay planting until early May without a yield penalty.

Typically soil takes a longer time to warm up than the air temperature. An inexpensive soil thermometer gauge is all you need to keep tabs on soil temperature 2 inches below the soil surface. You can also visit MSU’s Enviro-Weather website to check the soil temperature and several other important weather features from a station closest to you. Also, make sure that your planting date is within the planting period specified in your crop insurance policy.

Planting corn late can invite more trouble than planting early. Typically yield losses start on corn that is planted in late May. Studies in Wisconsin have shown that corn yield planted in early June decreases at a rate of 3 percent for each day planting is delayed.

Source : msu.edu

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