Why early planting usually pays

By Dave Nanda, 
Director of Genetics & Technology 
Seed Consultants, Inc.

It has been proven by many tests conducted by the universities and seed companies over the years that earlier planted corn typically yields more than the later plantings. It has been demonstrated that in the central Corn Belt, you can lose about one bushel per acre per day if you plant corn after May 10th. However, they seldom explain why. The reasons are as follows:

North of the equator, June 21st is the longest day of the year. Plants can trap most sun light during May 21st to July 20th period. Earlier planted corn has more time to capture solar radiation. That’s the main reason for higher yield potential.

Is heat more important than light for yield and maturity? You can’t grow crops without either heat or light. Fortunately, both come from the sun. Heat provides the energy and light is required for photosynthesis, a process that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, starches and proteins. Very few things in life are free! Sun light is one of them. In order to maximize capturing more sun light, you need to plant early to trap more of the free heat and light obtainable in any given season. Our studies have shown that earlier planted corn will usually have:

• Higher yield potential 

• Shorter plants with lower ear height 

• Less root and stalk lodging 

• Lower grain moisture 

• Higher test weight at harvest

So, let’s forget 2011 and get your planters ready.

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