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Asparagus is up, so you know when to plant corn

Asparagus is up, so you know when to plant corn
Is the when to plant corn question answered by asparagus? Is that sage advice or foolhardiness? You decide!

Asparagus is a delicacy to me. I have had a patch for a long time, and enjoy it for several weeks each spring. Last year my sheep got into it and ate it down. I figured the patch was ruined. Instead, it came back stronger than ever this year!

Related: When is the best time to plant corn? Here's a novel way to know

Some say it's back better than ever because the natural pruning of the sheep eating all the way to the ground was good for it. That may be an old wives tale.

Here's a tale not so easily dismissed: Some believe that if asparagus is up, then it's time to plant corn. The soil is warm enough to germinate the seed.

Fact or fiction: As a crazy TV commercial about sports fans doing silly things to help their team win says, it's not crazy if it works. Some believe if it's warm enough for asparagus to emerge, it's warm enough to plant corn.

Richard Kohlhagen, Rensselaer, is one who believes in that philosophy. He ought to know – he and his wife Carol primarily raise corn and soybeans along with their sons, now part of the operation, but they have also raised asparagus commercially for many years. They've cut back on the asparagus acreage, but still raise several acres.

Watching the trends over time, at least in his soils, which tend to be on the sandy side, Kohlhagen says there seems to be a correlation between when asparagus sprouts through the ground in the spring and when it's warm enough in the soil for corn to germinate. He has used it as a guide in the past to know when to begin planting corn. Of course it also hinges on the ground being in good enough shape and not too wet for planting.

Related: For planting corn, soil temperature of 50 degrees is magic number

Kohlhagen is in northwest Indiana. Not too far from there, near Mulberry, one farmer reported last week that he had already harvested 10 pounds of asparagus form his rather large garden patch. But then again it is April 28 now, and was April 21 when he made that claim. The calendar is moving farther away from the date of the last possible frost, based on historical averages, and towards the probability of warmer soil temperatures with each passing day.

So if your asparagus is ready, maybe it's time for planting corn!

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