This spring has been a positive one thus far for farmers with corn planting moving along at a record pace, but cold weather could slow that momentum. Frost is a possibility for some areas of northern Iowa this weekend, and Iowa State University agronomist Roger Elmore that would set back the corn growth.
He says the upper leaves on the corn that is above the ground could be lost to the frost, but he says the good thing is that the growing point is still below ground and it would not be a huge concern in most cases. Elmore says the bigger worry is for the seed that hasn’t been in the ground very long.
“If the corn has just been planted, it could be subject to some issues,” Elmore explains,”what happens is the soil cools down, the water in the soil cools down, the kernel in the soil are just like a sponge and absorb that.” He says that could cause the plants to become disoriented and not grow properly and some plants could be lost.
Elmore says the amount of damage depends on the length of the cold spell. He says a one night cool down is not a problem, but if we have several in a row, that becomes a problem as the soil temperatures drop and there starts to be problems below ground with germinating seeds and growth. Elmore says if the frost does nip off the leaves of plants that’re already up, there’s plenty of time for recovery.
“They will come back in most cases, not all cases, but in a majority of cases, that growing point below the ground protects the plant from complete death,” Elmore says. He says the growth may be delayed a bit, but they plant won’t be killed. Elmore says plants that are slowed by frost shouldn’t show any loss of yield after they recover.
The latest crop report showed 84% of the corn had been planted by the first of May, a record for that time of year. The report says 19% of the corn that’s planted has emerged from the ground. Some farmers in northeast Iowa have delayed planting beans because of the cold weather forecast.