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Warm spring gives corn a helpful boost
By Linda Breazeale
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Warm spring temperatures have pushed corn quickly through its most vulnerable stages and given fields the potential for a good year.
Normie Buehring, senior research agronomist at the Northeast Mississippi Branch Experiment Station, said corn at the Verona station is growing fast and running ahead of normal. The researcher evaluates hybrids, weed control, bed longevity and tillage issues.
“Warm weather helps the crop to grow off fast before it gets hot and dry,” Buehring said. “We are looking at some of the best early corn growth we've had in a while. It's hard to imagine that we are just about finished working this crop. Soon, all we need is to continue with timely rainfall and watch for insects and diseases.”
Buehring said research fields been spared any hail damage, and the rains have come at just the right time and amount.
Erick Larson, Extension small grains specialist, said fertilizer prices are pushing Mississippi corn acreage to the lowest levels since 1995. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts Mississippi farmers will plant 330,000 acres of corn, down from 380,000 last year.
“The dry conditions have helped with planting progress, and most farmers should be well ahead of schedule, especially compared to last year,” Larson said. “We had some damage from hail and recently insects have increased, mostly due to hot, dry conditions in April. In general, the corn is looking good except for those insect problems.”
Don Parker, row-crop entomologist at the Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Raymond, said chinch bugs and stink bugs have been reported throughout the state in higher numbers than normal.
“Rains have helped reduce populations as the plants progress. Chinch bugs particularly do better in dry periods,” Parker said. “As weeds and plants dry outside the fields, insects look for other plants to feed on. Unfortunately, crop tend to be the most succulent plants available.”
Parker said whenever the plants are less than 6 inches tall, they are generally more susceptible to chinch bugs. If the plants are not growing well, the added stress of chinch bugs also can affect taller plants.
Dennis Reginelli, area Extension agronomic crops agent based in Noxubee County, said corn in his area has missed most of the early insect pressure.
“It's important for corn to grow quickly to beat early insects and establish good root system,” Reginelli said. “Early season stresses can put farmers in a bind all year long. A healthy start helps the crop handle stress throughout the growing season, and I think the fields have done that this year.”