Will An Early Planting Date Affect Yield?

March 24, 2012 03:40 AM
Will An Early Planting Date Affect Yield?


U of I research indicates fairly flat yield response for corn planted between early April and early May.


Record-breaking Midwest March temperatures have left many farmers eager to start field work – and even planting – weeks ahead of schedule. But does planting early pay?
The University of Illinois took a closer look at that question by revisiting research conducted in the past five years by Emerson Nafziger, Department of Crop Sciences.
U of I researchers looked at general yield response to planting date in central Illinois, which they say are thought to be representative of much of the Corn Belt.
planting date graph 
The yield response does show a slight yield advantage for corn planted in mid-April, but the yield response is mostly flat for corn planted from early April through early May. However, there is a sharp drop in yield associated with planting into later May and June.
The researchers conclude that contrary to popular opinion, data would indicate there is not a substantial yield premium for planting early. However, farmers avoid the steep yield penalty associated with planting late, they add.
During the past 37 years, the percentage of late-planted corn has ranged from 1% (1977) to nearly 47% (1995), with a 15.4% average during this time span. To date, 2012 is shaping up to be a year with minimal late plantings. Researchers conclude that provided all other factors are equal, U.S. yield potential could be 2 bu. per Acre higher than in a more typical year. Actual yields in 2012, as is the case every year, will be most heavily influenced by summer weather conditions, they add.


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