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Crop Progress & Delayed Planting

Good Morning folks, and welcome to round…..? I ‘m not sure; I’ve lost count with all the moisture we’ve received this late “winter”/what’s supposed to be spring.

Here in the Northeast corner of Nebraska, we received over an inch of rain overnight Monday, with more expected the rest of the week. I’m not here today to concern you, or to deter the situation. Yes, planting is behind schedule, but there have been worse years before. I’m old enough to remember 1991 and 1992 in certain areas of the country.

It’s amazing how fast we can get a crop in once Mother Nature cooperates. We’re not that far off on planting and, with the cold soil temps we’ve had, that only further extends the problems. I’ve talked with a few NuTech Seed DSMs over the last 48 hours and soil temps are coming up. The next 7-to-10 day forecast calls for warmer weather and drying conditions later in the week.

If you’re concerned about maturities on corn: don’t be. Typically, this time of year we’re behind on heat units, and we catch up in late June and July. Stay with the corn hybrids your NuTech Seed representative has positioned for you.

The same goes for soybean varieties. Soybeans know how to adapt and are daylight sensitive. My experiences have shown that those growers who stay with their adapted varieties have the best results. In 1991 I saw soybeans being planted with airplanes on the 4th and 5th of July, using their adapted varieties. It got extremely hot, muggy and kept raining. We had a killing frost on the 18th of September, and the soybeans still yielded 40 bushels an acre.

With delayed planting, bring some other potential risks into our equations. The chance for more insect damage could occur from delayed planting or the wet conditions: seed corn maggots, wireworms, grubs, fall armyworm, and cutworms can become more of a problem. If you are equipped with insecticide applicators on your planters, consider using an insecticide in this year’s program. We can see improper seed-to-soil contact, as well as side wall compaction on your seed rows. Check your planters and adjust accordingly so that we don’t see open furrows and seed not at the proper depth, while having good “seed-to-soil” contact.

Here are some websites that can help you as the season progresses. UNL CropWatch is a tremendous website if you haven’t used it before. You can follow UNL.edu on Twitter or Facebook as well. UNL Water is another excellent resource. Tamra Jackson-Ziems has a great Twitter account and keeps up-to-date on the current planting situations and issues concerning crops in Nebraska. Jennifer Rees is a Nebraska Extension Educator focused on crop protection.

I’ve also had some dealers ask me recently about educational opportunities. We’ll have some going forward this summer at our company-sponsored plots as well as other events. One coming up is the “UNL Intro to Crop Scouting” on May 9 in Ithica at the UNL Diagnostic Center. 

Last but not least, please be safe, cautious, and think before you get rolling this season. I almost saw an accident occur on Friday because a farmer was getting in a hurry. Take your time and be aware of what’s going on around you!

What Do We Do Now?

With corn fields not yet planted throughout the region, these questions are being asked:

“Do I need to be switching to earlier maturing corn varieties?”
“Should I replant problem fields?”

It seems like each year I need to address these questions.  We learned in the past that corn requires fewer Growing Degree Units to mature when planted after May 1 than listed in product brochures.

From my own research trials and University trial data, we can expect corn planted in our region to require on average around 6.8 fewer GDU’s to mature for every day of delay beyond May 1.  Another way to interpret this is that it would require approximately 200 fewer GDU’s from May 1 planting versus June 1 planting to reach black layer.

For example, a variety listed at needing 2400 GDU’s to reach black layer would only need 2200 GDU’s to reach black layer when planted the end of May versus planted May 1.  What makes this research real is how growing degree days are calculated and how corn develops at temperatures over 55 degrees.

It is agreed corn does nothing for development at temperatures below 55 degrees and above 86 degrees.  However, when calculating GDU’s using the current formula, one minute at 56 degrees counts the same as 12 hours at 56 degrees for a given day. The corn plant “disagrees with that thinking” and in fact 12 hours at 56 degrees contributes to development much more than one minute at 56 degrees.  Typically, temperatures at the first of June are above 55 degrees more minutes a day than in April or the first of May, which validates the research above.

My advice to growers is to have patience with your variety selections until later in May. Planting earlier hybrids south of their adapted maturity zones could increase their inability to tolerate temperatures, as well as leaf or stalk diseases associated with southern zones.  

Planting date is but one of many yield influencing factors:

  • Historically, we know that early planting favors, but does not guarantee, higher yields.
  • Do not assume that this year’s ideal planting date has already passed.
  • 90% of corn yield and maturity date is typically determined by the environment (temperature and rainfall) after June 1.
  • Late May or June planted corn typically emerges twice as fast as April planting due to warmer soils and longer hours of sunlight.
  • Risk of replant is dramatically reduced for May plantings compared to April planting.

Replant decisions are also the hot topic for a lot of growers at the moment.  With warmer temperatures, we should be to able to evaluate stand establishment. Remember to base replant decisions based on expected yield and dollar returns, not on emotions. History tells us to finish planting other fields not yet planted prior to replanting.

Bob Nielsen, Agronomist Purdue University, writes replant guidelines to consider first:

  1. Productive plant population:  Determine the productive plant population in several areas of the field if left as is.
  2. Stand Uniformity:  If the productive plant population is not uniformly distributed within the row, additional loss will likely occur.
  3. Likely replanting date and target plant population.  This will help calculating the yield potential of the replanted field.
  4. Can the original yield goals be accomplished by spotting in thin areas or would it be better to replant the entire field?
  5. Likely replanting costs.
  6. Expected normal yields. Estimate the yield potential of the damaged field and replanting yield potential.  Suggest using a five-year average.
  7. Expected market price for corn.  The dollar gains or loss by replanting obviously depends greatly on what you expect to receive for the grain this fall.

Recognize that there is no guarantee of success for later-planted replanting situations.

Agriculture, Agronomy, Corn, Growing Degree Units, NuTech Seed, Planting, Replant, Soybeans, Spring