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Around the County

Frequent information updates for agricultural audiences

Corn and Late Planting

Posted by John Fulton -

With the wet, cool spring we've had in 2009, many are concerned about the effects of late planting. While there are averages we can look at, 2008 showed us what variability was all about. Mid-June planted corn and soybeans last year provided above trend-line yields in many cases, of course all bets were off if water continuously forced replants into July (and then some).

The tried and true data from the Illinois Agronomy Handbook shows corn planting optimum dates are from April 20 to May 4 (wishful thinking at this point). These dates give 99 to 100 percent of yield. Looking at later planting dates, May 9 gives 97% and May 14 gives 95%. We do start seeing a more aggressive drop-off after May 15 with a May 19 yield potential of 91% and May 29 of 81%. Of course, the next question is "of what?" Yield potentials have increased dramatically of the last several years. 90% yield with a potential of 150 bushel corn isn't going to excite too many people, but that same 90% potential of 250 to 300 bushel corn won't be too shabby.

Later planting does have some advantages. Remember this year the soil temperatures returned to the lower 40's in mid-April. Later planting should give us a more uniform stand with less seedling problems. Insecticide used will also be applied closer to rootworm hatch, unlike some years when very early planting put the insecticide out there two months in advance.

A recent article in the bulletin discussed more recent research on planting date and yield. Central Illinois really didn't see much difference between April 9 and May 9 in yield over the trial period. There was more of a penalty for late planting in Northern and Southern Illinois than Central. You can read the entire article at http://ipm.illinois.edu/bulletin/article.php?id=1079 .

Looking back on things, there just weren't many opportunities for early work. As for planting, it would have been really hard to justify putting $250 to $325 a bag seed corn out there in 42 degree soils. There is still plenty of time to put in a timely corn crop, and it certainly doesn't take as many days to put the crop in as it used to.



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