Corn Planting at record pace.

Contributed by: Deb Campbell, District Manager, Western Ontario

Corn planters are heading to the field at a record pace this spring. The steady pace of planting into excellent soil conditions is leading guys to wonder “How much corn is too much to have planted today?” No one is really pushing too hard but the acres planted are adding up quickly and well ahead of “normal” planting dates making guys feel a little uncomfortable. The province is on track for 40-50% of the corn acres planted by Apr 24th if the weather stays good.

This comes down to risk and looking at the pros and cons of these early planting dates. One common scenario being played out in producers minds is that the corn will emerge and develop to the 6 leaf stage by late May/early June. What if there is a late frost. While replanting concerns are a real risk, the reality is this occurs about once every 8-10 years. One way to manage this risk is to leave your low lying/north facing/frost prone fields for later planting.

Another scenario being discussed is the soil temperature being too cold. Soil temperatures have been ranging from 5-70C at night and 13-150C during the day(between 11:00 am and 7:00 pm). While not ideal for germination these soil temperatures should not deter rate of planting. Final emerged populations on these early planting dates tend to be lower. Typically 5 – 15 % final plant stand loss under these conditions are common. Cold temperatures may lead to an increased impact on seed mortality, coleoptile tip freezing, etc but these could be offset by using the upper end of the recommended seeding rate. To help manage this plant your loam and sandy loam soils-they will be drier and warmer, south facing slopes, fields with less surface trash-cleaned tilled or into soybean stubble.

On the plus side, acres planted per day and number of planting days required to get your corn crop in are good benchmarks to measure your planting progress by. A solid start to your acres in this planting window takes the pressure off later. Two and even three separate plantings also has benefits of mitigating risk from various pests, diseases and weather related events.

Regardless of your decision to keep planting or hold off for later, hopefully you are enjoying the early start to 2010. Safe planting.

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