Early Corn Planting Boon or Bane

Weather firm looks through mountain of data across the Corn Belt to show that early planting may not eliminate risk from heat at pollination.

Published on: May 31, 2012

With planters rolling so early this season across the Corn Belt there's hardly any time to look at data to figure out what it might mean when combines roll this fall. The weather insurance firm Climate Corporation has plowed through plenty of information to look at trends to determine just how early planting may play out later this year on a number of factors.

The company leveraged the power of the weather data platform it has built for its insurance product. Climate Corporation analyzed historic data from over 820 weather stations across 11 Corn Belt states. This analysis shows that for some areas of the Corn Belt, planting early does not substantially reduce the risk of excessive heat that can impact pollination. In other areas, however, you can get a benefit.

Weather firm looks through mountain of data to show that early planting may not eliminate risk from heat at pollination.
Weather firm looks through mountain of data to show that early planting may not eliminate risk from heat at pollination.

There were two key conclusions from the company's latest 2012 Outlook Report.

First, an early pollination period provides corn growers with a benefit related to lower temperatures at pollination in less than one out of 20 years in most of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Northern Iowa.

Second, early planting that advances the pollination date by even a single weak can decrease the probability of a crop experiencing yield-damaging heat by up to 40% in many locations across Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota.

The chart lower on this page shows the average temperatures for the hottest six weeks across the Corn Belt. The ideal pollination time would be ahead of that peak week. Pollination after that week risks hitting frost before the crop fully matures. Farmers who have planted early will want to figure their growing degree units to determine when their crop will pollinate.

You can read the complete report by downloading it from the link above.

Early Corn Planting Boon or Bane

HEAT OF THE MOMENT: Climate Corporation has figured the hottest six weeks of the summer for the Corn Belt - pollinating before this time is best.