March 1, 2011

Timing is Everything - Pick Your Planting Dates Carefully

Each May, my first wave of service call requests from farmers tend to have
a central theme of “I knew I shouldn’t have kept planting but...” It is not unusual for April to open up with a run of warm days and then revert back to weather that more closely resembles early March. I am an advocate of the theory if the soil is in excellent shape, let’s plant. Knowing when to let up for a couple days is the challenge for most farmers, and every spring I see planters running during rain showers, or well before ground is fit.

Channel® brand corn genetics have the potential for improved early vigor.

The Acceleron® 250 Seed Treatment Products applied to Channel® brand corn products have three fungicides to help control seedling diseases and a seed-applied insecticide for secondary soil insects like wireworm. These factors contribute to better seedling success under most spring situations. When soils warm up early, the key is to get corn germinated and well on its way to emerging before conditions cycle back to wet and cold. The worst case is to drop in a lot of corn just a day or two before the seedbed becomes waterlogged and cold. Timing risk has increased as planters have grown in size. When seedbed conditions turn marginal, a 16-, 24- or 36- row planter moves over a lot of acres while the decision to halt planting is being deliberated.

snow-logged cornfield Bigger planters can give greater flexibility when looking for the best opportunities to plant corn into good field conditions. Being patient and waiting for the right planting conditions carries the risk that conditions could be worse later, or we might even find ourselves outside what are considered optimum corn planting dates. Weigh this against all the negatives associated with replanting. There is no good method to repair a thin or inconsistent stand of corn. Poor corn stands are often discovered well into May and it is common to run out of favorable replant dates before a problem field can be repaired.

Planting time is only weeks away. Give some thought to how you’ll know when it’s right to be out planting corn; “when I see the neighbors are out planting” is not the correct answer. Then give some thought to how, if a cold front is forecast, you’ll decide it’s time to hold up for a few days.


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