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Agronomist: “Stay calm, corn can adjust to late planting”

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Forecast indicates warmer temperatures lie on the horizon. Even then, farmers preparing fields are advised to wait a little longer.

Jim McDermott is a DEKALB Asgrow technical agronomist in northwest Iowa. McDermott urges growers to remain calm throughout this cold, wet spell. He adds rushing into wet fields can create additional, unwanted problems.

“Knowing the crop can be planted in a very short amount of time is key,” McDermott said. “Even though we can plant in a short amount of time, we want to be patient and make sure that when we start, we’re not putting it (the crop) in a tough environment. We need to wait as long as we can this year to help those soil temperatures warm up and our fields dry out.”

McDermott adds corn has the ability to naturally adapt to a later planting date.

“In fact, it will put on less collars, or leaves, and we can get by with less Growing Degree Units (GDUs) for later planting. Corn has an amazing ability to adjust to those later planting conditions, if we happen to get in that late window,” McDermott said.

A late planting window can impact herbicide and nitrogen applications. McDermott reminds growers there are options available to growers stuck in the late planting window.

“If we’re not allowed to put a herbicide on pre-emerge, we certainly have some options to go early, post-emerge,” McDermott said. “A lot of our herbicides labelled for pre-emerge can go post-emerge, even up to 11-inch tall corn. Certainly have to check the label on individual herbicides, but we do have that option.”

“If we’re not allowed to put on our nitrogen before planting, we have great options on being able to put nitrogen on after planting – As a liquid or sidedress nitrogen. I really like that, especially if we do have to get later planting. We have that option of having nitrogen available to the crop later in the season,” McDermott said.

McDermott notes yield impact varies across the state. He states growers can see a slow decrease in yield starting May 10th.

“That’s when we start seeing yield impact, at least on corn. After we get past May 10th, the yield drop-off is very slow. Our rule of thumb would be about a half-percent/day. We can get to May 20th and still see very minimal impact on yield,” McDermott said.