If weather is cool and wet, you might have to fight to get corn planted during the optimum window—that’s normal. But if you struggle to finish on time every season, or if you find yourself starting earlier to finish on time, you might need to re-evaluate your equipment and manpower, says Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie. "Early planting is fine if conditions are right, but if you plant in wet soil in order to finish on time, you risk problems with stand establishment," he says.
Consider the following pinch points to determine if your planting pipeline needs an update:
Timing. How much time do you have to get planting done? Your landgrant university or seed company can tell you the optimum planting window for your locality because it varies by area.
Ferrie suggests his Midwestern clients be able to plant their corn crop in five days, when conditions are right. "Of course, those five days may not come in one stretch. It may take a month to get five days of good planting conditions, depending on the weather," he says.
Machine power. Is your planter sized for your acreage? "As farmers pick up acres, they may add a grain cart or a second combine but forget to upsize their planter," Ferrie says. "Rather than a bigger planter, you may want a second one, so you can plant in two areas at once."
Manpower. Consider hiring a custom operator to spray while your skilled employee plants. "You can hire people to do a lot of jobs," Ferrie says. "But it’s difficult to hire someone to plant your crop on a timely basis."