RISK VS REWARD: Planting Early Risky Move

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The unseasonably warm weather means Iowa sweet corn is weeks ahead of schedule, but with frost in the forecast, farmers could lose it all. Normally, Iowa farmers don't even think about planting their sweet corn until the first of April. However, the weather this year was so warm so early that some farmers took a risk and planted in the middle of March.

Mike Penick owns Penick's sweet corn. His corn is already 3 inches high. That’s not the norm for Easter Sunday. Forget knee high on the 4th of July. Mike says if Mother Nature cooperates, his corn could be harvested in late June. However, planting this early can be dangerous. Monday's forecasted frost  worries Mike. If the frost is hard enough, he could lose it all, and there's no good way to protect the baby plants.

“I'll spray water on top of it like they do in Florida to theoretically help prevent frost, but not a scientific deal,” says Penick.

Mike says he spent about $900 on the seed to plant his 4 acres of sweet corn. If it frosts and it kills his corn then he's out that money. However, if the sweet corn survives, he could see a pretty penny. Mike estimates he could make up to $20,000 in profit.

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