Corn prices have been good the past few years and really good right now, as we head toward planting season for 2011.

The natural inclination is to produce more corn and make more money. Good in principle, but maybe not so good in practice, says veteran North Carolina State University Corn Specialist Ronnie Heiniger.

A couple of years back Heiniger gave a rousing speech entitled, “Corn — A miracle waiting to Happen.” He stands by that concept, but says corn growers in 2011 need to keep a few things in mind before they go crazy planting corn.

“The first outlook for corn this year is all roses, or ears, he jokes. Corn is a miracle that is now ready to happen. Our time is due and the price is right — I believe that firmly,” he says.

“Hopefully, we learned some valuable lessons from the 2010 crop, which was stressful due to near record heat and drought across much of North Carolina. In 2011, corn growers are going to want to grow as much as they can, but they need to remember some lessons from both recent and past history,” he adds.

“First, spend whatever time is needed to pick the right variety for your farm. Last year corn growers saw first hand that when the chips were down, the varieties capable of tolerating heat performed well. Look at which varieties performed well in 2010 in areas that were most affected by weather-related stress.

“Last year heat tolerant and moisture efficient varieties were the difference between making virtually no corn and making 120 bushels per acre. It was that dramatic! Variety selection will be everything in most years and especially so when corn prices are so good,” Heiniger says.

In addition to being the corn guru that most North Carolina growers turn to for information. Heiniger has become something of a weatherman. His meteorological skills are beginning to be almost as in demand as his corn production expertise.

“Last year, based on weather patterns, I urged corn growers to plant their corn early. It was advice that paid off well for corn growers in North Carolina. In most areas of the state,” he says, “growers who planted their corn early, made the best corn.”