Corn Needs Extra Two to Three Weeks to Beat Frost

The crop in South Dakota is immature compared to a 'normal' year. Scouts are worried about tip-back. ( John Herath )

It’s clear farmers in southeastern South Dakota fought all spring to get crops in. The corn fields that did get planted are behind—is it a catastrophe yet? No, but frost is creeping in and could cut promising fields short.

“We’ve seen a lot of prevent plant already and we’ll continue to see more between here and Nebraska,” says Pro Farmer’s Chip Flory. “There’s 2.8 million prevent plant corn acres in the state. Is maturity concerning, sure.”

As Flory reviews ears he’s particularly concerned about the viability of kernels at the tip of the ear and expects many of those will be aborted. The big questions in those fields now is just how far back will the tips go?

“We have good populations, [but] there are some disease issues in this corn field that appear to be bacterial,” Flory says. “It could be Goss’s Wilt.”

With August nearly over, farmers in South Dakota might be hoping for higher temperatures to try to rush this crop to the finish line.

“When you have tiny kernels like these you want to ‘slow cook’ it,” Flory says. “That means normal temperature and an extra two to three weeks at the end of the growing season to bring it home. If you speed it up with heat you’ll hurt it even more. But, we’ll need that extra two to three weeks if it’s going to hit blacklayer before that first frost.

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