What’s happening with the early planted corn?

 Contributed by Robert Moloney, NK Brand Seeds

So you planted your corn really early this year.  Now it’s just coming out of the ground and the stuff you planted a couple of weeks later is coming up in a week.  Did you make the right decision to plant it early?  Are the later planted acres going to yield just as much as the early?  Until we put a combine through it, there is no way to know for sure but in all likelihood the really early planted corn still has the advantage.  Since they are both coming up at the same time how can that be?  ROOTS!!  We don’t see the roots of a plant very often, but having a great root system is critical to getting high yields.  Early planted corn usually goes into cooler soils and this results in more root growth over vegetative growth initially.  This means that although you may not see these plants come up, they will have a jump on the later planted corn due to a bigger and more established root mass.

A bigger root almost always a benefit to a plant.  The research on the benefits of early weed control has shown that plants with early weed competition have their growth skewed more heavily to vegetative top growth than root growth (and have lower yields).  With the dry spring we are experiencing across most of the province a bigger root system is going to help these plants find enough moisture early this spring.  Moisture is required for the plants to take up nutrients so bigger roots that can get to an area with moisture left helps nutrient uptake and allows the roots a larger quantity of soil to get nutrients from. 

Overall with the near ideal planting conditions this spring (albeit wanting a rain to get the crop up) very little corn should have been put into a tough seed bed which bodes well for getting the crop off to a great start and (if the weather co-operates this summer) an awesome yield next fall!

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