“If you can avoid these conditions, your crop can get off to a better start, with more uniform stands and vigorous early growth, which are well known to enhance corn yields,” says Larson, who is associate Extension/research professor of plant and soil sciences at Mississippi State University.

“Last year, a lot of corn was planted in early March, when soil temperatures were less than 50 degrees. Fortunately, most came up to an adequate stand, but that has not been the case in recent years.  The key was that a period of dry weather followed, which helped emergence.”

Early planting is important for a successful corn crop, he says, but very early planting generally won’t produce the highest yield because heat unit accumulations are very low.

While corn is “an amazingly productive plant,” Larson says, poorly timed or haphazard planting can cause problems that can’t be overcome and which can cause serious yield reduction. Planting in wet fields can also cause soil compaction, which can restrict root growth and cause severe root development problems.

Among factors that can have an impact on the crop’s outcome, he says, are crop rotation, planting date, row width, hybrid selection, starter fertilizer, seed treatment, plant population, and nitrogen rate.