Corn crops in the lower Southeast states of Alabama and Georgia looked promising as growers headed into the critical month of June.

“We’ve had some cloudy weather, and that’ll undermine some of our crop, but as I travel around the state, it’s probably the best crop I’ve seen in a long time,” said Dewey Lee, University of Georgia Extension agronomist.

On May 29, Georgia corn producers reported that 27 percent of the crop was fair, 49 percent good, and 20 percent was in excellent condition. In Alabama, 27 percent was fair, 63 percent good, and 8 percent excellent.

Now, it’s up to producers to help finish out the crop, and this is where irrigation strategies become important, says Lee. Of all crops, corn responds best to irrigation, he said during a recent Alabama Cooperative Extension System Corn Management webinar focusing on irrigation.

“Depending on the year, corn is likely to average nine to 10 bushels per inch of irrigation,” he says. “The challenge in watering corn is determining when water has declined sufficiently to impact your yield and applying that water in a timely fashion.”

If water supplies are limited, a pre-planned application can protect your yield, says Lee. “At $6 per bushel, if water costs you $6 per inch, it only takes two bushels to pay for irrigation. If you have water, use it.”

He noted that a south Georgia corn grower made 364 bushels per acre in 2011, “and he did it because he managed the crop all season long, and he managed it through his irrigation system.”

In situations where water is limited, three well-timed applications can protect your yield, he says.

 “Target your irrigation at tasseling, pollination and early grain fill. There are 18 to 20 days from tasseling to early blister that are highly critical, and you can make 50 to 60 percent of your total yield during that time if you haven’t had four weeks of vegetative drought.