The warm winter allowed most growers to get corn planted a little ahead of schedule this year, and getting corn planted early should be a good thing for North Carolina corn growers.

Heiniger says most of the corn planted in late March in the state looks really good. By the first week in May, Heiniger says as much as 98 percent of the corn was planted, compared to 80-85 percent in previous years.

For corn growing traditionalists the outlook for the 2012 crop in the Upper Southeast is good. Heiniger says except for some frost damage in the Piedmont area of the state, which set the corn crop back a little bit, and a few areas with drought problems, the early planted corn crop looks great statewide.

Normally, that’s a good thing, he says. Early planted corn, that comes on uniformly is better than corn that is planted across a longer period of time. How well it works out is going to depend on whether or not growers get rain.

So far, he says, the La Niña weather pattern that has created havoc for growers the past two years seems to be behaving the way it should and that will be good news for corn growers in general.

The past two years growers who planted later, or even those who replanted due to dry weather, fared better than those who planted early.

If La Niña tapers off in late May and on into June, growers should get the rainfall they need to produce a good crop of corn. If the weather pattern extends longer into the growing season, then it could be a different story.

For those corn growers who march to a slightly different beat, Heiniger says there are still some interesting opportunities.

For the past couple of years a small, but growing number of farmers in the Upper Southeast have planted corn in July and have done well. “They hit the weather pattern just right — La Niña definitely favored late planted crops. In a situation like that some growers may have actually produced more corn by planting as late as July,” Heiniger notes.

The strategy of planting corn in July is to avoid the intense heat that typically occurs in June and July when corn in the Southeast, planted in March or early April, is in critical growth stages. By planting in the heat, corn is at these critical growth and kernel setting stages when daytime and nighttime temperatures are on the decline.

Waiting to plant corn also gives growers multiple opportunities for planting double-crop behind a fall-planted crop, usually wheat. By allowing wheat to fully mature, the grower gets maximum production from his fall crop and gets good or better production from his second crop — corn.

When it comes to money, most farmers agree two crops is better than one.