Groundhog Shadow or Not, Conditions Look Favorable for Texas Corn Planting

According to various news agency reports, groundhogs across the nation, including Punxsutawney Phil, did not see their shadows today, which, by tradition, means spring will come early this year.

“Regardless of what the groundhogs indicate, we are experiencing a drying trend in many areas, and the soil-moisture profile is good, which is good news for Texas corn growers,” said Dr. Ronnie Schnell, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service state cropping systems specialist, College Station.

Until recently, Coastal Bend and Central Texas fields were too wet to work or incorporate preplant fertilizer, Schnell said. There also were concerns growers might see a repeat of last year’s overly wet spring. Last year, frequent rains kept many producers from planting corn on time, as well as other field operations.

Schnell said there’s reason to worry this spring could be a sequel to the spring of 2015: the strongest recorded El Niño to date.

The long-range forecasts, influenced by current El Niño conditions, suggest a wetter-than-normal pattern lasting into late spring, he said. These predictions have been proven true to date, but the recent dry weather could mean growers could still have the best of both worlds, timely planting and good stored soil moisture.

Corn planting usually begins near the average final freeze date or when soil temperatures are greater than 50 degrees. Planting usually begins along the upper Gulf Coast the third week in February. In Central Texas, it generally starts a little later, the last week of February to the first of March, Schnell said.

In the other major corn growing areas of the state – the Panhandle, South Plains and North regions – corn planting may begin as late as June, he said.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Texas producers harvested nearly 2 million acres of corn for grain in 2014. In 2015, harvested acres were down somewhat to 1.95 million acres.

AgriLife Extension district summaries can be found here.

Source: Texas AgriLife

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