Published on 06/17/99

Potential Still There in Georgia Corn Crop

Despite the summer drought, the Georgia corn crop could still make good yields, said a University of Georgia scientist.

"It all depends on where the rain falls," said Dewey Lee, a UGA Extension Service grains scientist. "Overall, the potential for a good crop yield is still there."

J. Cannon, UGA CAES
A CRITICAL TIME for corn in Georgia is when silking begins. University of Georgia scientists say corn needs about one-third an inch of water daily to ensure grain fill and a full crop. In spite of a recent lack of water, the 'potential is still there' for the Georgia crop.

During the week ending June 4, the Georgia Ag Statistics Service reports that 59 percent of the Georgia corn crop is in fair, good or excellent condition. But only 22 percent of farmers report adequate soil moisture.

A critical time

"Corn is in the critical water- need stage of silking and grain fill," Lee said. At this stage, corn needs about a third of an inch of water every day. Without water now, the kernels won't fill out properly.

Georgia's corn value

Lee estimates Georgia farmers planted about 340,000 acres of corn this year. Last year's 265,000 harvested acres was valued at $54 million.

About 35 percent of Georgia's corn acreage, 120,000 acres, is irrigated. Lee said farmers with irrigation need to make sure their systems work properly throughout the season so the crop gets the water it needs.

Problems other than water

But farmers who use irrigation face problems besides a lack of water. With water come diseases. Lee said common rust is showing up, particularly in irrigated fields.

"But I'm sure the farmers would rather deal with rust than dry stalks," he said. Though common rust has some farmers concerned, Lee said as average daily temperatures rise, it will be less of a problem.

On the remaining 210,000 acres of dryland corn, Lee said hit-and-miss rain showers make all the difference. "I've seen some dryland corn that looks really good," he said. "Other fields, well, they're just about burned up."

Need more corn

Whatever the crop outcome, Lee said Georgia is still a corn deficit state. Georgia farmers could grow four times what they do and just barely have enough to provide feed for the poultry and hog industries.

"Georgia's poultry industry uses far more (corn) than we produce," said George Shumaker, a UGA Extension Service economist. "We have the actual acres, but other crops, particularly cotton and peanuts, are more profitable. And farmers won't stop growing those to grow corn."

Feed processors import corn and other grains from the Midwest to fulfill the livestock feed demands.