Will a late start to the season impact local corn crop?

Corn seed planting is underway at Don Rawls' farm in northern Pender County (Photo: Justin McKee/WWAY)

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Mother Nature has not been very kind to some farmers in Pender County this spring, but they are getting good news this week, in the form of a sunny and warm forecast.

“We’ve had two rainouts and both times, we’ve been out a week to 10 days just because the ground’s been too wet. Now we’ve got a good week this week, we hope to catch up this week,” farmer Don Rawls said.

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Soil temperatures greater than 55 degrees and dry weather are needed for farmers to put corn seed in the ground.

“We have to have a good soil temperature to get the seed out of the ground,” Rawls said. “When you get rain and cool nights, that keeps the soil temperature down. To get a good yield, you gotta get a good stand. To get a good stand, you gotta have good germination and that all comes back to weather and temperature.”

May 15 is generally thought of as the last day for farmers to plant in North Carolina if they want a good yield. Planting any later puts the crop at risk of disease and pushes the harvest further into hurricane season.

Rawls has more than 30 years of experience growing corn in Pender County. He’s learned not to worry about Mother Nature’s impact on his livelihood.

“We’ve got to learn to live with it and read the seasons and live with it,” Rawls said. “You can let it push you too far if you let it worry you too much. I’m always concerned, but I try not to worry too much.”

Rawls started putting seed in the ground Monday and he hopes to have the entire crop planted in the coming days.

Warm afternoons and mild nights plus sunny skies this week shouldn’t provide farmers with any more delays to the planting season.

Rawls says he’s still shooting for a normal yield for his corn crop this year despite the late start. He’s expecting about 170 bushels per acre.