We're off and running!

Soil conditions and weather was cooperating enough at the Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center (NWIARDC) to both begin spring nitrogen applications and sow the first corn on April 1.

As is the case most years, the first corn planted on the NWIARDC is planted earlier than both the USDA-RMA earliest planting date of April 5 and most local farm fields. Each year Dr. Emerson Nafziger's corn and soybean planting date studies are established to gather data to determine, given the weather conditions experienced by a crop both around planting time and until harvest, when the best time to plant occurred.

These data can be collected over many years to provide planting date recommendations to crop producers in different regions of the state.

This year, corn planted on April 1 accumulated approximately 113 growing degree day (GDD) units by April 14. Corn plants require heat (between 50 and 86 °F) in order to grow, develop and reach vegetative and reproductive milestones on their way to physiological maturity. According to the Illinois Agronomy Handbook, approximately 115 GDDs must accumulate before plants begin to emerge. With the higher daily temperatures predicted for the next several days, our earliest planted corn is likely to emerge any day now.