Will slow start, spike in replants sap yield potential?

Drastic action not required – yet, experts say.

The state’s corn planting progress improved to 89 percent last week, nearly even with the five-year average, while farmers more than doubled their planted soybeans acreage. (Photo by Catrina Rawson)
(Photo by Catrina Rawson).

BY DANIEL GRANT

A troublesome start to the planting season has many farmers concerned their crop yield potential may be going down the drain with each rain delay.

And, don’t look now, but the calendar flips to June on Thursday, which marks the end of the final planting date for corn, from an insurance standpoint, in the five southern-most counties of Illinois.

Farmers in the rest of the state have until June 5 to plant corn before a 25-day late-planting period begins.

“We have a few beans that need to be planted and a lot of corn that needs to be either replanted or spotted in,” said Doug Uphoff, FarmWeek CropWatcher from Shelbyville (Shelby County). “We can’t even get corn replanted because the ponds either have water in them or are too wet.”

Fortunately, seed supplies were adequate in many areas to handle the late-season surge of demand, which was about two to three times higher than normal in some locations for this time of year.

“I’ve not normally seen this much seed go out (this late in the planting season),” said Dennis Garzonio, GROWMARK senior seed research and product manager. “I’d say, at least for our brand, we’re in good shape to supply what people need.”

So, should farmers start considering shorter-season varieties or switching from corn to beans? Not necessarily, according to Garzonio and Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois crop systems specialist.

“I’d expect this may be a recent record in terms of the number of acres that got replanted. And some of those areas probably need replanted again,” Nafziger said. “But I think it’s premature to switch hybrids. Late planting with today’s hybrids may not be quite as costly as it was 30 years ago.”

Overall planting progress in Illinois actually was near the five-year average last week despite all the delays, Nafziger noted. Planting last week was 89 percent complete for corn (1 percent behind average) and 48 percent complete for beans (3 percent behind average). Nationwide, 84 percent of the corn crop was in the ground last week, just 1 percent behind average.

“It’s almost June. It’s time to move forward,” Garzonio said. “Some guys might be in position to switch crops, but on the other hand, if they made a commitment to corn (via fertility and pesticide applications), then some may not have the flexibility to switch.

“I’m still very optimistic with yield opportunities out there,” he continued. “We’ve got a long way to go.”

Nafziger said he’s not too concerned about the late start, yet.

“May growing-degree days normally are in the 450 range, and I don’t think we’re even at 300,” Nafziger said. “But being 150 behind, by the time we get to midsummer, that fades a bit.

“I’m still kind of optimistic. It will dry out eventually,” he added. “If we have favorable conditions in June, we could be saying the crop is in pretty good condition a month from now.”

Content provided by FarmWeekNow.com.

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