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Still time to plant corn

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reports less than half of Iowa’s corn crop was planted, as of May 12, 2019. Typically, farmers try to have their corn planted before May 15.

What happens if you can’t get the crop in by day’s end?

AUDIO: Ryan Clayton, Pioneer

USDA-NASS data suggests high yield potential exists, if half of the corn crop is planted before May 15th. However, an Integrated Crop Management News article indicates high yield is possible, even as planting is delayed into mid-May. Ryan Clayton, Pioneer field agronomist, backs this claim in stating, “Corn can adjust to the situation it’s in.”

“Corn does adjust to later planting dates, physiological maturity wise,” Clayton said. “There’s a study we refer to a lot when talking to our customers about this topic. It is a three-year study, conducted by Purdue and Ohio State University, that documented how hybrids can adjust growth and development, which basically means they require fewer growing degree units through each physiological maturity when they are planted late.”

The study found corn plants require 244 fewer growing degree units to reach physiological maturity when planted from late May into early June. Clayton adds, “Two-hundred-and-forty-four growing degree units could equate to a week or two, depending on heat accumulation in the middle of the growing season.”

With this in mind, Clayton encourages growers delayed by weather to not panic.

“I know, it’s hard.” Clayton said. “They’re worried. They might have a high percent of acres still to go in, but there are things we can do to adjust, and it doesn’t have to be extreme. It doesn’t have to be changing crops.”

Clayton realizes some growers may have activated fertility programs, which were built based on the planned rotation. He advises those growers to initiate conversation with their seed representative, as they may want to consider switching hybrids.

“In those cases, we want to look at possibly some maturity switches on our corn hybrids,” Clayton said. “ So they thinking about what the full season is for their area. In the area I cover, we will get up to 113-115 day hybrids. We start to get to this part in the calendar, in the middle of May, the conversation can begin with, ‘Do I want to go that full season? Am I at risk of frost or not getting those hybrids to complete maturity?’”

Pioneer research suggests farmers should not steer away from a full season hybrid until May 24.