Tips for “later” planted corn

Contributed by Robert Moloney, NK Brand Seeds

It isn’t really “late” by the calendar in most areas yet, but with the amount of corn that has been planted already it feels like it is.  A few things to keep in mind if you’re planting corn in the next couple of weeks:

SWITCHING MATURITY: it’s still too early think about changing in most areas until we get to May 20th -25th depending on what part of the province you are in.  Most years you are going to lose more in yield from shortening maturity than you gain in lowering harvest moisture until you get really late.  After last fall, most growers likely aren’t pushing maturity with the corn they ordered anyway.

SEEDING RATE: don’t drop your seeding rate back just because you’re planting into a warmer seedbed.  The seed treatments we use these days mean we don’t lose many plants in cooler soils anyway, so if you are getting better results from higher seeding rates in early planting, you’re still likely to get a benefit even if it’s later planted.  Check the recommended seeding rate for the hybrid you are planting and keep it to appropriate levels to maximize your yield potential.

PLANTING DEPTH: CHECK IT REGULARY and keep it to a minimum of 1.5” deep.  Planting shallower won’t get it out of the ground much faster and has all kinds of potential to cause you issues.  Planting depth is something that still doesn’t get enough attention paid to it.  Check it in each field and each time soil type or conditions change within a field.

MAKE SURE THE SOIL IS FIT FOR PLANTING: now that we are into a later planting timeframe the temptation is going to be to just get the crop in as soon as you can.  More often than not it will pay to wait the extra day for conditions to improve rather than put it in wet and fight sidewall smearing, compaction and a poor root system all season.

SOIL FERTILITIY: if your soil test levels are low find a way to get the fertilizer on.  You can’t maximize you’re yield potential if you don’t have the nutrients in the ground.  If you have medium to high soil test levels at this point with warmer ground you are less likely to have a response from a banded starter fertilizer, so if time is tight you may not lose much from skipping it.  If soil levels are low you can’t get away with not applying fertilizer if you want to maximize return. 

BURNDOWN: make sure the field is clean before the corn emerges, whether that is through pre-plant tillage or a Touchdown burndown.  Having the field clean before you plant (or at least before the corn emerges) is critical to maximizing yield potential.

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