The 2015 planting season is well underway. According to Paul Geogy, CEO of Allendale, Inc., the goal of having 50% of the corn planted by May 8 seems very possible as the average progress for this week is 20%.
“The weather models are projecting more heat and moisture for next week, which should get the crop off to a great start,” he says.
The pressure to get off to a strong start is apparent every year. But Peter Thomison, an Ohio State University agronomist, says farmers should avoid a few common spring planting errors that can result in lower yield potential before a single plant has even emerged. It’s often smarter to hold off when timing is poor – even if the clock is ticking, he says.
“Growers who aren’t finding favorable planting conditions may want to hold off planting, especially if the weather forecast calls for cold, wet weather conditions,” he says. “Yield reductions from mudding in the corn can be more costly than delayed planting. Some years, we’ve had growers who reported outstanding yields on corn that wasn’t planted until late May.”
Thomison offers seven “tried and true” pieces of advice for planting season.
1. If conditions aren’t right, don’t rush in and plant just for the sake of planting early.
2. Perform tillage only when necessary and under the proper soil conditions.
3. Avoid working with wet soil and reduce secondary tillage passes. This can cause shallow compaction and reduce crop yields. Deeper tillage is more appropriate during late summer and into fall on dry soil, and only after compacted zones have been identified.
4. Adjust seeding depth according to soil conditions. Plant corn between 1.5” and 2” deep. This will provide protection against frost and allow for adequate root development. Adjust seed depth for weather and soil conditions.
5. Adjust seeding rates by field. Fields with high yield potential, high soil-fertility levels and high water-holding capacity benefit most from higher seeding rates. Consider lower seeding rates on droughty soils or with late-planted crops. Push seeding rates only where appropriate so you don’t incur unnecessary input costs.
6. Reduce risk by planting a mix of early, mid and full-season varieties. This tactic also spreads out harvest time and workload.
7. Plant full-season hybrids first to reap the most benefits from maximized heat unit accumulation.
In this video from Corn College TV Season 3, Farm Journal agronomists recap the “Systems Approach” to farming by starting with the planter, planter technology, maintenance and upkeep as a way to get more out of every planter pass.
You can order the first four seasons of Corn College TV at shopfarmjournal.com. Season 5 airs weekly on RFD-TV at 7:30 a.m. CST on Wednesday and 10 a.m. CST on Saturday. Season six is currently in production.