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I-States Mixed On Corn Germination Success

Though most Corn Belt states have had excellent emergence, some have experienced more of a mixed bag. Midwest farmers who have been able to enjoy ideal planting windows experienced dry conditions, mixed with warm spells. However, others were dealt cool, wet conditions, and rain remains in the forecast.

“Germination is always good, and this year was no exception,” says Emerson Nafziger, Extension agronomist at the University of Illinois. “There aren’t very many stand problems in Illinois. Most people have made good planting progress.”

Dave Mowers, agronomist at AIM for the Heartland located in Wyoming, IL, says this is the best emergence he’s ever seen.

“We’ve had cold weather and the crop is growing slowly, but the corn was planted in nearly perfect soil conditions with adequate warmth at the time of planting,” says Mowers.

But that’s not the case for everyone. The state of Indiana is really a mixed bag, says Bob Nielsen, Extension corn specialist at Purdue University.


“We’ve had a lot problems getting the crop planted around the state,” says Nielsen. “If you look at the statewide averages, we’re on par. But there are pockets that continue to get rain.”

Where the corn could be planted, Nielsen says it looks like it’s off to a good start – all things considered. Those factors? Rain and cold temperatures. Conditions weren’t ideal for tillage last fall or this spring, and now Nielsen is concerned about planter compaction. “We’re waiting for the other shoe to drop,” says Nielsen. Of course, nothing says it’ll automatically happen.

Craig Stevens, crop consultant with Ceres Solutions in Medaryville, Indiana, says his territory hasn’t been so fortunate. With only 2/3 of the corn crop planted, Stevens spots issues in every field.

“We’ve had big time rains, and we’ve never been able to dry out,” says Stevens. “Cooler temperatures have created germination issues.”

“The corn that was planted early doesn’t look bad from a distance, but get in the field and you notice the issues,” says Stevens. “The color doesn’t look good. We need it to turn sunny and about 75°. It would clear up.”

Without successful germination, Steven expects to see replant in his territory this year. There are isolated pockets where the corn never came up; some are large enough they’ll need to replant.

Soybeans are more difficult to figure, says Stevens. “Some growers are half done with soybeans, and some haven’t started. I’d say 25% of them are in the ground.”

For farmers weighing their options on whether to finish corn planting in wet conditions or wait for it to dry out – when rain is in the forecast, there’s no perfect answer, says Nielsen.

“Try to identify the lesser of the two evils,” says Nielsen. “Nothing they do is going to be the perfect thing.”

Instead, Nielsen urges farmers to select the choice that will give them the least amount of risk.


Nafziger says he’s noticed most farmers are ahead of the average planting date in Illinois, but the recent cool temperatures have caused people to pause. Without any signs it’s going to stop raining or start pouring excessively, he doesn’t believe there’s a reason for concern.

“To be 95% finished with corn by the end of May is pretty good,” Nafziger adds. “If we keep getting dry weather to allow us to finish planting, and then get our soybean crop done, we’ll be off to the races.”

The week of 80° temperatures in Illinois led to excellent corn emergence, says Nafziger. However recent cool temperatures have led to slow emergence of soybeans, and slower corn development.

“Soybeans have been a little slow with rain and cool weather,” says Mowers. “We have probably 25% of our soybeans emerged. Corn stands are better than the soybeans, mainly because of the cool conditions.”

While the corn looks slightly yellow, once it warms up, Mowers expect the root development to take off and be able to access the nitrogen.


Variable weather and spotty rains in Iowa have led to potential areas of replant, says Bryan Arndorfer, CCA and owner of Precision Management Service in Bancroft, Iowa. But overall, the crop emergence looks as good as it ever has.

“For the most part, everything got planted really timely,” says Arndorfer. “Emergence is probably as good as it’s ever been. We just need some heat.”

The cool temperatures he’s referencing are starting to affect the development of the soybeans – with 90% of soybeans planted and 40% emerged.

“In our area we lucked out when we were supposed to get a frost and we missed it,” says Arndorfer. “That would’ve been detrimental for a lot of soybeans.”

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