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Corn planting begins

Planting beginning in South TexasSoil temperature critical factor in plantingAflatoxin a concern for some corn growers

Jeffrey Stapper

February 23, 2011

1 Min Read

As soils have warmed, planting in the Coastal Bend has begun with hopes that farmers can take advantage of excellent commodity prices.

Corn is being planted now and soils should be warm enough for good germination of corn seed.  Good corn germination can be expected when the soil temperatures at a 2-inch depth is 55 degrees Fahrenheit by 9 a.m. for three consecutive days.  Uniform germination and stand establishment are critical to get the best return on a crop, as one could see a 7 percent yield loss when 25 percent of the plants emerge 7 to 10 days late.

Cool soils are not good for grain sorghum emergence.  In fact, the ideal soil temperature for grain sorghum emergence is 70 degrees, so one should wait until the average 5-day soil temperature at the 2-inch depth reaches 60 degrees.   Soil temperatures are being monitored and recorded by a Crop Weather Program maintained by Texas AgriLife Research and Texas AgriLife Extension Service and can be accessed at

As corn is being planted, one always thinks about possible problems with aflatoxin late in the growing season.  This was recently addressed at a meeting in Waco. “We don’t have a lot of tools to deal with it,” said Scott Averhoff, president of the Texas Corn Producers Board, addressing grain producers at the 49th Blackland Income Growth Conference.

Aflatoxin is a cancer-causing poison produced by the fungus Aspergillus flavus that grows unpredictably in corn during periods of hot and dry weather. At least $14 million in losses due to corn mycotoxins have been recorded for Texas corn producers, but the losses to Texas agriculture overall are likely closer to $200 million, according to AgriLife Extension economists.

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