Delaware Agronomy Blog

University of Delaware Cooperative Extension

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A Warmer 2021 is Boosting Emergence

Emerging corn in a rye cover crop

Emerging corn in a rye cover crop

While it may not seem much warmer than it was in 2020, having steady days above 50°F had provided much faster emergence than last year. In 2019 we were getting about 10 growing degree days (GDD) per day, while now we are seeing 15-20. The threshold for emergence is about 100-120 GDD, which we have reached for most fields planted between April 15 and April 22nd (Table 1). In 2020, we had only reached half of that (60-90 statewide) over the same time period.

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Cover Crops May Protect Corn from Cooler Temperatures

The weather outlook in Georgetown includes no air temperatures (currently) in the 30s through April 21st. With that outlook, soybean and corn planting can probably start late next week. Although there can still be a random late freeze, the probability really drops after April 15th in our region.

The preferred soil temperature for corn germination is 50°F, which allows the seed to begin root and shoot growth.  Many of the weather stations on DEOS ( have soil temperature as an option, so you can track current conditions. Since April 1st, soil temperatures have ranged from 47-53°F in Newark and 47-55°F in Georgetown. Soil temperature does not change as rapidly as air temperature, so we would expect the daytime temperatures over the next week to keep soils above 50°F, even when nighttime temperatures dip into the 40s.

Figure 1: Corn on the left was planted in bare plots while corn a few inches away in a rye cover crop appears unaffected.

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Cover Crop Termination for 2021

Jamie Taraila,  Jarrod Miller,  and Amy Shober

With April and warmer temperatures finally here, it is time to think about cover crop termination. This spring, we expect lower cover crop biomass at burndown due to the cool, wet winter conditions that delayed growth, particularly small grains. Therefore, termination timing decisions are very important this year. We must recognize that there are pros and cons of early and late cover crop termination and make decisions that maximize benefits.

Figure 1: Vetch cover crop before spring corn planting.

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UMD and UD Seeking Farmer Cooperators for N Study in Corn

The University of Maryland and University of Delaware are looking for farmers throughout both states to participate in a research project evaluating decision making surrounding adoption of nitrogen management tools (commercially available N models, drone imagery, PSNT). We will implement a field trial in the 2021 growing season that contains six nitrogen rates applied to corn in four replicates in strips (~15 ft wide by 300 ft long) requiring about 2.5 total acres. Participants will be trained on the use of various nitrogen management tools and will be paid for their participation in the trial (W9 submission to UMD required for payment) pending eligibility to receive EQIP funding. Participants must have the ability to apply prescribed nitrogen rates and record yield at harvest using a calibrated yield monitor. We require participants to participate in a pre-season interview (in April 2021), a one-on-one post-harvest debrief session, and a focus group in November or December, all likely taking place virtually due to COVID restrictions. Farmers who have not previously partnered with Extension on research projects are encouraged to participate. If interested, please contact Dr. Nicole Fiorellino at University of Maryland at and Dr. Amy Shober at University of Delaware at

2021 Agronomy Day

January 20th, 2021


You must register to attend and have access to the quizzes for credits:

Current credit approval:

Nutrient Management : DE (2 credits), MD (2 credits)

Pesticide  Continuing Education: DE (4 credits Private and 1A).

CCA Credits (Full Day): 4PM, 1.5NM, 0.5PA.

The full schedule is below

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