April 25, 2013 | By: | Agronomy

Keeping Your Resolve … Your Original Corn Plan is a Good One!

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All the equipment in the shop is ready to go. Can’t find a single thing left to check out or fix. I’ve even waxed the tractor, for the third time. I’m sick of having coffee at the café until 9:00. I am thinking too much about what could happen. All I know is that I want to be putting in a crop and instead, winter just won’t give up!!!!! The calendar, the snow, the cold … the corn seed that I bought, well, it maybe too much maturity. Good grief, another day of white again today, what the heck am I going to do? I want to plant corn but it is getting late. I swear it is May 20th right? No wait, I guess it is only April. Yes, but last year at this time I had a lot of my acres planted already! What should I do? Maybe I should forget about corn and plant soybeans? I don’t know. If it shapes up, how can I get my crop in fast enough? I know I will just need to plant as soon as I can get across the field. Forget about fit field conditions, I just need to get this stuff in the ground! Maybe I should sweep the shop floor again. I hate to admit it, but the soap operas are getting interesting …
Sound familiar? Well, maybe a little exaggerated but …………. but maybe not. Let’s talk some realities that may help in this year of no April showers and flowers. OK. First, it looks like the weather trend is changing. We will be going from “winter” to early “summer like” weather patterns over the next two weeks. By May 1st we should be starting to dry. By May 20th we may be done planting corn. Sounds too good to be true, huh? Well, I think it is very possible. First, the field conditions are not saturated like we are used to over the last 20 years. Once we get the temps, our fields will shape up much faster than normal. We may not get in the field until May 10th, but that is ok. I REPEAT, THAT IS OK. In 2011, we didn’t get started until then and we had a great crop of corn. We got the fall tillage done. You are one big step ahead of normal, right? DO NOT CHANGE YOUR HYBRID PLAN UNTIL AT LEAST MAY 20. I have been around corn for 30 years now, and I can attest that you do not want to change from your “PLAN A” hybrids until that time. Why? First, we usually only get about 100-150 good heat units in May on an average year. It takes close to that many heat units for emergence, so it is not that critical for the seed to be sitting in the ground before it is warm enough for emergence. Think about how many times you have planted into cold or wet soil in the past and had your seed lay there before it emerged, loosing vigor and imbibing cold water if it is wet in the planting zone? Plus every time you have delayed emergence, you have uneven emergence. A corn plant two leaves behind its neighbors is a weed, not a productive corn plant. Did that cost you anything? You bet it did. Waiting a few days and having your corn emerge fast and even is worth many, many bushels. And remind yourself of that when your neighbor is out there mudding and you are not. You are going to be the smart one in the end. Think about the lost bushels of an early hybrid planted before it should be. That alone can be 20-30 bushel. You are money ahead if you keep the priorities straight. Population and emergence uniformity is extremely important for corn. You know it is, so don’t compromise by mudding it in, driving too fast or cutting corners on field preparation. Pushing it just because you are afraid of a rain event delaying you is more costly than planting a little later in good conditions. Corn isn’t $2.50 anymore, so don’t worry about having to spend a few dollars drying your corn this coming fall. The added bushels gained will more than take care of your drying costs. All of these things can add up to 20-30-40 even 50 bushel gains or losses in corn. Think about that instead of all the “what if’s”. YOUR ORIGINAL PLAN IS GOOD. Don’t change a thing until after May 20. Then you should consider dropping off your biggest corn and dropping back a few days maturity if it is available. NO use changing maturities unless it is a least a 5-10 day maturity change. You’re a durable northern corn grower with a good plan. Keep your resolve….

Rich Larson, SE North Dakota/Eastern South Dakota CCA

Rich Larson

An agronomy problem-solver extraordinaire and CCA, Rich Larson spends his days as a sales agronomist in southeastern North Dakota and eastern South Dakota. He is a North Dakota State University alumnus and has over 30 years of experience in the seed industry. Rich is committed to providing answers to dealers and growers. So much so, he might even look at a field planted to a competitor’s seed to give a grower answers. During his downtime, Rich can be found cheering on his Bison, relaxing at the lake house, or spending time with family and friends.

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