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Expect uniform corn emergence in 2024

Corn Commentary: Warm temperatures and soils should help corn emerge normally — once you get it planted.

Tom J. Bechman, Midwest Crops Editor

May 21, 2024

3 Min Read
Corn emerging in a field
UP AND GROWING: This field of emerged corn was planted April 30 in Fond du Lac County, Wis., near Brandon on the Mel and Robin Gunnink farm. Fran O’Leary

Dan Quinn learned one thing quickly after flagging corn emergence. “If soils are warm, you are more likely to get uniform emergence,” says Quinn, Purdue Extension corn specialist. “When emergence is spread out and some plants are two or more growth stages behind, they don’t catch up.”

In 2021, cool, wet weather after planting plagued parts of the Corn Belt, especially where corn was planted in late April. In the corn project field in 2021, planted April 26, the first plants emerged 11 days later, but then it took 14 additional days for all remaining plants to emerge. In both 2022 and 2023, warm soils helped corn planted in the project fields emerge within a week, with 85% to 90% emerging within 24 hours.

This year, the Corn Commentary project field was planted May 4 in central Indiana. This time, the first plants emerged eight days after planting, and over 90% emerged within 24 hours.

Uniform emergence year

“That is the kind of emergence we want,” Quinn says. “Part of it relates to fine-tuning the planter. When stands don’t come up uniformly, that is one place to begin looking for answers. Perhaps all rows weren’t planting at the same depth.”

When you get 90% or better emergence within 24 hours, the planter did its job. Plus, soils likely were warm enough for quick, uniform germination, Quinn says.

Related:Will 2024 be a good year for corn emergence?

“Soil temperatures haven’t been an issue in most locations,” he adds. “The bigger issue has been finding dry times to plant between rain events, especially from late April on.”

Across the rows

Here’s how the season looks so far in other areas of the country, based on Farm Progress editors’ observations:

In Nebraska. A lot of corn in Nebraska’s Central Platte Valley, including corn harvest demonstration fields at the Husker Harvest Days site near Grand Island, Neb., were planted in mid-April. But then a wetter pattern developed, dumping needed moisture in many drought-stricken areas. However, this slowed planting progress considerably.

In the far northern portion of northeast Nebraska, very little corn was planted early. Mother’s Day weekend changed all that, with sunny skies and a few days strung together that finally allowed planters back into the fields. — Curt Arens, editor of Nebraska Farmer

In Wisconsin. As of May 12, corn planting across Wisconsin was 40% complete, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Farmers scrambled to get as much corn and soybeans planted as possible during the week of May 13 before rains returned. — Fran O’Leary, editor of Wisconsin Agriculturalist.

In Illinois. Some crops went in early; then rains interrupted planting in various locations at various times. The result is a checkerboard pattern of planting progress across Illinois. The graphic below from IL Corn showing percentages of farmers with different categories of planting completed tells the story. — Holly Spangler, editor of Prairie Farmer.

Illinois Corn - A tractor on a field with text overlaying of corn planting completion data

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About the Author(s)

Tom J. Bechman

Midwest Crops Editor, Farm Progress

Tom J. Bechman became the Midwest Crops editor at Farm Progress in 2024 after serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer for 23 years. He joined Farm Progress in 1981 as a field editor, first writing stories to help farmers adjust to a difficult harvest after a tough weather year. His goal today is the same — writing stories that help farmers adjust to a changing environment in a profitable manner.

Bechman knows about Indiana agriculture because he grew up on a small dairy farm and worked with young farmers as a vocational agriculture teacher and FFA advisor before joining Farm Progress. He works closely with Purdue University specialists, Indiana Farm Bureau and commodity groups to cover cutting-edge issues affecting farmers. He specializes in writing crop stories with a focus on obtaining the highest and most economical yields possible.

Tom and his wife, Carla, have four children: Allison, Ashley, Daniel and Kayla, plus eight grandchildren. They raise produce for the food pantry and house 4-H animals for the grandkids on their small acreage near Franklin, Ind.

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