06/19/12 — Rain, mild temperatures have helped corn crop

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Rain, mild temperatures have helped corn crop

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 19, 2012 1:46 PM

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Wayne County Extension Agent John Sanderson examines corn in a field just north of Goldsboro on Monday. A fairly wet spring and moderate temperatures have given the county's corn crop a boost, putting growers in position to make a good yield, unlike the past several years, when drought and hot weather doomed the result.

Mild temperatures coupled with adequate rainfall have Wayne County corn producers optimistic about their harvest -- unlike last season's disastrous drought-stricken crop.

There is no comparison to this time last year when drought and sweltering temperatures claimed about 70 percent of the corn crop -- a loss of almost $11 million, said John Sanderson, Extension Service field crop agent.

"Right now I am very cautiously optimistic that we have got the opportunity to make a very good corn crop," Sanderson said. "It has had what it needs as far as rainfall up to this point. Of course we are entering into a very critical period with most of it tasseling or beginning to tassel. From here on you will get pollination and then grain fill which is a very critical period of time for timely rainfall.

"We will need at least an inch of rain per week to be able to reach the potential for this crop. It looks right now that it is in great shape. Countywide, it looks very good right now. There are some areas that haven't got as much rain as others, but they are in good shape. They have had enough rain to push this corn crop along and have the potential to be a very good corn crop."

Everybody is in kind of the same boat, he said.

"We still need to get some rain in the next three to four weeks, certainly the next two to three weeks is very critical," Sanderson said. "We'd like to see it for the next four weeks to fill this crop out -- an opportunity to make a bumper crop."

For the most part, farmers had a good planting season which allowed them to plant what they wanted to get planted, he said. The acreage is similar to last year's planting of approximately 26,000 acres, he said.

Moderate temperatures have been favorable as well, he said.

"The hotter it is, well, you run into problems with pollination when it gets into the high 90s," Sanderson said. "That can really devastate the crop. That is what happened to a lot of it last year. We had really high temperatures during pollination. We haven't had that this year. We have very moderate temperatures now and it looks like through this week.

"Most corn will be pollinating starting this week and the next two weeks depending on the variety and maturity. You have early-maturing varieties and later-maturing varieties. If we can get by the next two weeks with moderate temperatures like we have had there should not be any problem with pollination."

As a rule of thumb, corn needs about an inch of rain weekly, depending on temperature and soil type, to have an opportunity to make a good crop, he said.

"We have been very fortunate with rainfall this year," said Wayne Extension Director Kevin Johnson. "Our crops have really started off well, but as you know things can turn around very quickly. As you know, corn has a small window of opportunity for pollination. I have seen some corn that is near the stage of pollination.

"I would think the next three weeks will be the most critical for pollination. Rainfall is critical, and if we can avoid those upper 90-degree days. John has been out with the growers and yields are good. The yields are better than average. The weather is a coin toss. Even the seven-day forecasts have not been accurate."

Thus far corn also has been spared from disease and insect problems, Sanderson said.

"Right now there does not seem to be any significant disease problems in corn and no significant insect problems so we are in good shape," he said. "We have an opportunity to make a good corn crop if Mother Nature continues to cooperate with us a little."