Agronomist: Still Time to Get Corn Planted

April 30, 2013 05:06 AM

University of Illinois crop sciences professor Emerson Nafziger says if the weather conditions improve, there's still time to get the corn crop planted and crop potential back on track. He reminds of the importance not planting into wet, compacted soils, which leads to yields being compromised.

"The corn that has been planted is struggling mightily to survive the soil conditions and to emerge," Nafziger said. "If we are lucky enough to 'skip' another month and May begins to look more like a typical June, it's not too late to get the planting and crop back on track. So while yield potential will start to drop as we get further into May with planting, chances of a good corn crop remain high, as long as weather permits planting soon, and then returns to a more normal pattern of rainfall without summer drought periods like we've had the past three years in parts of Illinois."

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Nafziger reminds that most planting-date studies show yield losses accelerate as planting is delayed in May, and getting corn planted by the end of April is a recognized goal in Illinois. "The reality is though, that, on average, we only manage to get a little more than 40% of our corn planted by this target date and it's nearly the end of May before we reach 90% is planted," he says.

"Despite our anxiousness to finish planting by the end of April, Illinois data over the past 20 years do not show that early planting alone boosts yields," Nafziger said. "In fact, there is no correlation between time to 50% planted and yield as measured by departure-from-trendline yield. It's clear that the early planting and drought-damaged yields of 2012 helped wreck this correlation, but even if we eliminate 2012, the percent planted by April 30 still explains only about 5% of the yield departure from trend."

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