Corn planting window still wide open

According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Ohio has only 7% of the corn in the ground as of May 5th. That number pales in comparison to this time last year, when well over three-fourths of the crop was planted and corn growers are now more than 30% behind the five-year average.

Just reading that first paragraph will raise anxiety and blood pressure for many Ohio producers, but agronomists are encouraging farmers to take a deep breath and don’t jump the gun when it comes to forcing corn planting issues or switching acres over to soybeans.

“We are getting right in to the optimal time for corn planting as the calendar turns to May,” said Scott Sooy, northern Ohio’s technical sales agronomist with DuPont Crop Protection. “I don’t think farmers have any reason to panic. If they take their time and pick out the dry fields first and do what they’re supposed to do, they will be just fine.”

Studies have shown that for every day past May 20 that corn is planted, a bushel of yield is lost. That scenario has been challenged recently though, as in 2011 some fields weren’t planted until the first part of June and produced record yields.

“They always say April showers bring May flowers, so this might prove to be a very good spring for Ohio,” Sooy said. “There is a lot to do over the next few weeks, but I think farmers will be able to catch up if the weather cooperates.”

Making up for that lost time may still require some patience. The difference between mudding corn in and waiting that extra day or two could mean a considerable difference on the monitor this fall.

“Compaction is a huge issue with some of our soil types,” Sooy said. “Sidewall compaction will inhibit the roots from growing and getting established down into the soil. There are a number of activities that still need to be done such as burndowns, so farmers need to pick their places and go and manage soils correctly to not cause more harm than good.”

Benefits of pretreated corn hybrids have been highly noted in recent years, but a corn seed is still a corn seed. The right start in the most vulnerable stages of a seed will have the most optimum result.

“The best seed treatments in the world aren’t going to overcome compaction and weather issues,” said Kevin Cool, seed advisor for Beck’s Hybrids. “My biggest fear is guys getting antsy and getting out there a bit too soon. You will lose more than you gain by pushing the envelope.”

Aside from pre-treated seeds, other modern marvels in agriculture are playing a big role in helping farmers get seed in the ground in a timely manner. Now, farmers are able to cover quite a bit of ground in a short time, if needed.

“Farmers can now get a couple hundred acres planted easily in a day,” Cool said. “It’s not going to take as large of a window to get the majority of the corn crop going. That is a great advantage over just 10 years ago.”

For Cool, he doesn’t want to even discuss switching varieties or crops until June. At that point, he says to take a step back to analyze the weather and your field conditions, and then decide what would be best for each individual operation.

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