Farmers, who are concerned with getting their crops planted early, don’t need to panic yet! We’re still well within the window of opportunity to achieve optimal yields.
“Early planting” is really a subjective term. Some farmers define it as getting corn in the ground on April 15; others define it as getting corn planted by April 30. However, during my 32 years as an agronomist, I’ve learned that the date on the calendar isn’t nearly as important as the seedbed conditions at the time of planting and the short-term forecast that follows.
The years when farmers have achieved the best yields are when they had the best planting conditions and the best weather in the days that followed. Soil need only reach 50 degrees for corn to germinate, but it must be able to maintain that 50 plus-degree temperature for an extended period to encourage proper seed growth and plant development.
The unseasonably cold weather that we’ve experienced over the past two weeks has caused most soil temperatures to actually decrease. That’s why corn planted on April 15, 2011, isn’t guaranteed to out-yield corn that will be planted on May 5.
Waiting for soil conditions to reach – and maintain – 50 degrees Fahrenheit for corn and 55-60 degrees for soybeans will help with emergence and will contribute to better seedling development and overall plant health. For these reasons and more, it pays to plant when conditions are better suited.
Shannon Latham was recently interviewed by Mark Pearson for The Big Show regarding planting dates and the best steps growers can take now to help achieve optimal yield. Click the link below to listen to the interview.
As Shannon said, patience is key this season. At Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, we know first-hand that waiting is easier said than done. We’re still waiting to plant, too!