By Robert Burns, Texas A&M University
Though corn in some areas showed considerable damage from late frosts and freezes in April and early May, most is back on track, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agronomist.
"Cooler weather has delayed planting a little bit in the Panhandle, but now that we’ve warmed up, everything has taken off," said Dr. Ronnie Schnell, AgriLife Extension agronomist specializing in corn and grain sorghum cropping systems, College Station.
Though most corn wasn’t planted or emerged yet in the High Plains, the frost damage to corn during early May in Central Texas and the Brazos Valley looked pretty dramatic, Schnell said. Leaves were yellowed and wilted in many low-lying areas, but even then the corn was at a growth stage where it recovered.
"The five-leaf stage is what we consider to be critical," he said. "Before then, the growing point will be below the soil surface. After the five-leaf stage, it’s much more susceptible to damage. Everything was young enough that the growing points were protected. There was some leaf burn, foliage damage, but if it happens early, it generally does not have an effect on yield."
The May 28 U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Texas Crop Progress Report, which is compiled from AgriLife Extension county agent reports, showed 95 percent of corn planted, with 44 percent rated as in good condition, 38 percent fair, 8 percent excellent and the remainder in poor to very poor condition.
When the frost struck, this Brazos Valley corn plant was at about the four-leaf stage, with the growing point still below the soil surface and protected. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Dr. Ronnie Schnell)
On an average year, Texas farmers produce more than 200 million bushels of corn on 2 million acres, according to a Texas A&M University department of soil and crop sciences summary.
Approximately 50 percent of Texas corn is grown in the Panhandle under irrigation, Schnell said.
More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force website.