Young corn plants in the field
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If you have been watching cornfields in Central Illinois, you may have noticed that the young corn plants have changed colors over the past couple of weeks. In late April, the small corn plants were green in color and two weeks later these same plants are pale yellow-green. On April 26, the 4-inch bare soil temperature was averaging 65°F. On May 12, the temperature was 49°F.

Is this due to a nutrient deficiency?

No probably not. Research by Drs. Mackay and Barber at Purdue University and other researchers more than 30 years ago showed that corn roots do not grow at soil temperatures below 48°F and grow very slowly at temperatures below 60°F.

Reduced root growth leads to reduced nutrient uptake for a growing plant that leads to the young corn plant leaves turning yellowish or chlorotic. Once the soil temperatures return to the 60s again, the corn should become green, again.

Cold soil temperatures have led to a reduction in the number of corn growing degree days, GDD, being accumulated. Currently, central Illinois is running between 25 to 40 GDDs below normal.

Looking ahead

Futures markets have been in an uptrend for the past six months in both, grains and livestock. The last time we saw prices this high was back in the 2011 to 2013 period.

In agriculture, we know that prices run in cycles and that prices do not stay at high levels for long. Take advantage of these high price levels to lock in profits for your 2021 and 2022 production.