Production Blog

The Amaizing Race

Corn planted last week in central Illinois has spiked and is off to a good start. (DTN photo by Pamela Smith)

DECATUR, Illinois (DTN) -- There's something magical about being able to row the first field of corn of the season. What's more amazing is how fast corn seeds can absorb water and spike through the soil surface when heat and moisture conditions are ideal.

Farmers in central Illinois got off to a roaring start this spring and planted the bulk of their corn acres over the past two weeks. Most of the corn took a mere seven days to shoot the tiny coleoptile through the soil surface. Cory Ritter, a Blue Mound, Ill., farmer told DTN that he expected the corn seed he finished planting Tuesday to spike within five days.

Driving the back roads across northern Missouri last week showed farmers didn't waste any time either. Prevent plant fields that grew up in a tangle of marestail last year showed evidence of being planted.

The planting season is something akin to welcoming a new child into the family. We wait for months in great anticipation for this joyous event. The miracle of beholding the first green signs of new life is enchanting, but is quickly replaced with responsibility of safeguarding its progress.

This week's notice that black cutworm moths are already flying and present a threat to our tender new seedlings served up a reminder of the need to go into protective mode. We talk about scouting every year, but the current commodity price means you can't afford not to get your boots muddy this year.

Bt traits take some of the pressure off scouting, but DTN Staff Reporter Emily Unglesbee's black cutworm alert warns of the dangers of being too dependent on those traits (…). It's also important to know what traits each hybrid contain and the protection offered. If the seed tag doesn't give you the answers, use the Bt Handy Trait Table chart to sort it out (…).

Those growers planting more conventional corn in an attempt to reduce seed costs also have an increased need to scout this year, especially if you've been accustomed to relying on built-in insect trait protection in the past.

Understanding how the corn plant grows and accurately identifying leaf stages is also critical to protect the crop during herbicide applications.

Purdue University has an insect scouting calendar that helps identify insects to look for this time of year (…).

DuPont Pioneer's interactive chart that shows corn growth stages and insect threats can also be helpful (…).

Pamela Smith can be reached at

Follow Pamela Smith on Twitter @PamSmithDTN



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