Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Crappy Corn

Lots of farmers across the midwest are evaluating "crappy corn" right now. Farmers hate crappy corn. They strive for beautiful corn. We want to do it right and do it once. Somewhere, every year, this doesn't happen.

My friend at Purdue University, Bob Neilsen has a recipe for crappy corn some of us are really good at.

The following recipe will prepare one helping of a crappy stand of corn. Add more acreage as desired.


One (1) field, level and poorly drained.
No-till is preferred, but conventional tillage will suffice if soil is 'on the wet side' when worked.
A hybrid of your choice, but poor seed quality and low vigor will ensure success of recipe.
Plant early, when soils have yet to reach 50oF.
Plant 'on the wet side' to ensure good sidewall compaction.
Do NOT add any starter fertilizer to the recipe.
Add a dash of seed rot or seedling blight organisms.
Add a pinch of wireworms or seedcorn maggots.
Flavor with acetanilide herbicides as desired.
Top off with a thick soil crust.
Add minimum of 0.5 to 1.0 inch of rain per week after planting.
Maintain average daily soil temperatures at 50oF or less for three weeks or more after planting.

Will serve 6 people: (farmer, dealer, industry rep, seed dealer, county agent, university specialist)

Corn replant decisions are amongst the hardest anyone makes. It is painful like cultivating corn for dad as a child. We rotary hoed and cultivated as standard practice until better pesticides came along. I have to learned to dread replant decisions just like dreaded cultivating corn.

Basically you are trying to get the stand to make the most total bushels of corn given your parameters of planting date, field conditions, hybrids available and many other factors.

But he also has some good information on replant decisions.

"Replanting of crappy (aka less than desirable) stands of corn occurs somewhere every year. A decision to replant a crappy stand of corn should be based on a number of criteria, but unfortunately the major influencing factor is often the emotion associated with looking out the kitchen window at the damaged field every morning or driving by the field every afternoon taking the kids to baseball practice. Even worse is the situation where the landlord is the one looking out the kitchen window every morning at the crappy stand of corn.

Make a wise decision about the merits of replanting a damaged field of corn requires more than emotions. In fact, I would rather that emotions be taken out of the equation entirely. Toward that end, I developed a replant decision-making worksheet that assists growers and farm managers in making that important replant decision. The worksheet allows you to determine the damaged field’s current yield potential (if left untouched), its replant yield potential, and the dollar returns (if any) from replanting the field.

The worksheet is included in a larger overall publication on corn replanting titled “Estimating Yield and Dollar Returns From Corn Replanting”.

Some of the information that is required to complete the worksheet originates from cropping records and history, including the original seeding rate and planting date for the damaged field. Some of the required worksheet inputs are frankly estimates, including what the field would have yielded under “normal” conditions if it had not been damaged and what market price you expect to receive for the grain after harvest. The expected replanting date and replanting costs are also required for the worksheet calculations.

Finally, some information is required from the damaged field itself. You will need an estimate of the surviving plant population that is representative of the damaged areas of the field. Depending on the nature of the crappy stand, you may also need estimates of after-damage stand uniformity and plant defoliation.

I will be the first to admit that it takes some time and patience to complete the replant worksheet; both of which are usually in short supply at the time the decision is being made. Recognize, though, that much of the replanting that occurs every year throughout the state is based primarily on emotion and not on estimates of economic returns. Taking the time to work through the steps of my replanting worksheet will help clarify the economic returns (or losses) to replanting and reduce the influence of emotions in this important crop management decision."

One thing I have learned is what Brian and Darren showed on Ag PhD last week. Anything off more than two corn stages is a weed. V-3 and V-4 are okay for your counts but V-2 will get so far behind and shaded out it is a weed.

Hope our decision is right!


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