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Replant Risks, Rewards

April 28, 2012
By: Rhonda Brooks, Farm Journal Seeds & Production Editor

What early planting may mean to this year’s crop

Many farmers rolled the proverbial dice and planted their corn crop early this spring—some nearly a month early. Positive pricing potential for selling August old-crop corn and ideal weather conditions influenced their decision.

As May starts to unfurl, those farmers are waiting to see if their gamble pays off. For some it will, for others it won’t, says Ken Ferrie, Farm Journal Field Agronomist, based in Heyworth, Ill.

"Every year, a dozen farmers in our area face a replanting decision, and I expect that this year as well," he says.

A cold snap could stall corn emergence or growth and pave the way for insect problems. "While still in the ground, corn is burning up its food supply and giving off CO2 emissions, which is what wireworms and other insects are attracted to," Ferrie explains. "You may then have cool-season water molds to deal with as well."

Worse yet, a killing frost could force farmers to replant their corn crop or shift to another crop, most likely soybeans. Killing frosts are particularly damaging to larger corn, which may have its growing points emerged.

"Corn is more likely to recover during earlier stages of growth, but as it matures into V4 and beyond, there are fewer reserves left in the seed to support regrowth of the plant," says Brad Miller, Ohio territory agronomist for DeKalb. "If a freeze is severe enough, it could kill the growing point even while beneath the soil surface."

Ferrie advises farmers who are faced with a replanting decision to think the process through before taking action.

"Try to take the emotion out of your decision making; get down to the numbers and let them help you decide what to do," he says. "You don’t want to tear up what might be a 170-bu.-per-acre crop to produce a 160-bu. crop."

That advice is more pertinent than usual this spring, as many premium corn hybrids are in tight supply.

"If you got the best products for your farm the first time around, you were fortunate. You may not be able to get them a second time," says Jeff Hartz, director of marketing for Wyffels Hybrids in Geneseo, Ill.

Josh St. Peters, corn marketing manager for Pioneer Hi-Bred, adds: "The initial hybrid may not be available for replant, but we have other quality seed available."

There were seed production challenges this year. Some winter production sites in South America experienced heat stress at pollination, which undercut seed quality and yields. Transportation problems also played havoc with availability this spring, as companies struggled to get seed corn back to the U.S. and delivered in a timely fashion.

A logical strategy. Ferrie tells farmers to start by assessing what their current crop will yield versus what a replanted crop is likely to yield. This involves evaluating the corn stand and total plant populations in each field.

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - Late Spring 2012
RELATED TOPICS: Corn, Agronomy, Production



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