Corn has been a big success story the past few years for growers across the country, but in some Southeastern states, the average corn yield has been trending downward, leaving some to wonder about the options for planting and managing corn a little differently.

Corn acreage is expected to be up slightly in the Southeast in 2012 and most of it was planted in March and early April, thanks to a warmer than normal winter, but there remain some unique options for late-planted corn that defy traditional wisdom of planting early.

Nationwide, corn production is booming.  U.S. corn farmers are on course to shatter production, yield and supply records according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released in mid-May. The report predicts a record production of 14.8 billion bushels with record average yields of 166 bushels per acre. 

If projections hold, corn production of 14.8 billion bushels would surpass the 2011 crop by 2.4 billion bushels. The report indicated that this estimate includes a 5.1 million acre increase in harvested area and expectations of yields significantly higher than those seen in 2011. 

In the Southeast projections for acreage are likewise up, but the projected annual yield of more than 162 bushels per acre is little more than a pipe dream for dryland corn production in much of the region.

Ron Heiniger is an Extension specialist with North Carolina State University, based in Plymouth, and corn is a big part of his life.

Weather is a big part of corn production in the Southeast and Heiniger is also recognized as a sort of meteorological guru by some of his followers across the state.

Though he is definitely a plant on time, manage on time proponent, Heiniger says there are some interesting opportunities for planting corn on a totally different program than what has been recommended over the past 50 years or more.