Yet Another Blow to Corn Planting

May 21, 2013 01:45 AM
Yet Another Blow to Corn Planting

Powerful storms ripped through parts most of Minnesota and western Wisconsin on Sunday and Monday, further delaying an already late corn planting.

"Except for those acres that received severe downpours, the cornfields that were planted should be okay," says Jeff Coulter, agronomist with the University of Minnesota.

It’s the corn acres that haven’t been planted that are worrisome. While producers made great headway last week with 71% of the nation’s corn planted as of May 19, compared with only 28% a week earlier, Wisconsin only had 43% of its corn acres planted as of Sunday.

"We are pretty far behind," says Joe Lauer, agronomist with the University of Wisconsin. Wisconsin producers like to have their corn planted between May 1 and May 5, based on their location within the state, to optimize yield.

"If planting isn’t done until June 1, we have lost 30% of the yield," says Lauer. Late planted corn is also more vulnerable to pollinating during the hottest, driest part of summer.

Lauer is in charge of planting 13 research plots to corn for the University of Wisconsin and says he has not been able to plant since last Thursday. "It’s a mixed weather forecast for the rest of the week," he adds.

The wettest part of the state stretches from Arlington to Marshfield to Fond du Lac. Next week, Lauer says, corn producers will need to switch to corn varieties with shorter maturities.

Watch for Yellowing

With so much rain falling so fast, leaching could be a concern on fields that have already been planted. "If corn is looking yellow at about 18 inches, producers might want to side dress with a little nitrogen," Coulter says.

Producers with unplanted corn acres in areas that received heavy downpours likely won’t be able to return to planting until Thursday at the earliest, says Coulter.

For Minnesota, the latest recommended date to plant corn is May 31. "From a yield standpoint, last week was the last week to plant and still get optimal corn yields," says Coulter. "Yield is slipping away. You need to get your unplanted corn is as fast as you can. But don’t mud it in."


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