Friday, May 6, 2011

Corn Progress

This weather is something else. I am glad I am not in seed sales anymore.

A year ago Tyler and I were looking at my baby beans. This year they are still in the bag!

The USDA released its weekly planting progress report. Corn planting progress is very behind last year’s outstanding pace, with only 4% of the crop being planted last week, 13% of the total corn crop is in the ground for the 18 primary producing states. This compares with a 5 year historical average of 40% in similar time periods, and 2010’s estimate of 66%. Top corn producing states Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Dakota, and Ohio, all reported no progress in corn planting over the past week due to the record amounts of precipitation.

From Informa:
Corn, down 300 thousand acres at 91.9 million,
Sorghum, down 200 thousand acres at 5.46 million,
Soybeans, down 600 thousand acres at 76.0 million,
Other Spring Wheat, down 360 thousand at 14.0 million, and
All cotton, up 515 thousand at 13.1 million.

"As rain continues to push corn planting back and soybeans after that, growers may be starting to reconsider crop choices. Other guys who got some corn in the ground 10 to 12 days ago before the rains must have their fingers crossed hoping the seed won't rot in the cold and saturated soils. And others are probably happy they watched the forecast and waited.

One worry is now being replaced with another as growers wonder if they should switch varieties to shorter season numbers or switch from corn to soybeans as the clock keeps ticking and the optimal planting window closes.

While it is easy to conclude that the window is closing, there is still time. Most growers want to have their corn planted by April 20 or 25 or no later than May 1. With the rush to plant early many of us believe that there is a really big benefit with early-planted corn. However, the optimal window for planting corn really doesn't close until about May 10 and yield losses of 1 bushel per acre per day really don't kick in until May 8 to 10.

Mid-April to early May is the optimal window for planting corn from Indiana to Nebraska. Sure there is nothing wrong with planting early and nothing wrong with planting later either as you won't lose any yield before May 10. Remember, the final yield is not just determined by planting within the window. It is also impacted by weather conditions over the summer and the length of fall before the first frost occurs -- along with stresses that occur during the season. Most farmers need only 10 to 14 good days to plant corn. If the rains end this week and it dries up fairly quick, there may still have enough time to get corn planted within the optimal window.

What about switching hybrid numbers to shorter relative maturity? If it is May and you stick with corn, it doesn't pay to switch to shorter season hybrids. First, the shorter season hybrids will yield no better than planting the longer season hybrid planted at a later date. And second, if you go looking to switch out hybrids at this late date you will probably not be happy with what you get.
So there is no hurry to switch to soybeans for probably another 20 to 30 days. Optimum planting date for beans begins in late April through mid-May. But let's not worry about soybeans just yet until the corn is planted.

Lastly, and very important, it never pays to mud in corn. The compaction and sidewall smearing you create will have a more negative effect on yield then any planting delay ever will."

We can mud in corn as well as anyone, successfully with lighter tractors and the Martin planter setup. We can tip toe across fields and may have too.

It just hasn't been good growing weather yet, too cool to be this wet.

I am figuring 25% of my yield and income potential at this point is lost but all is not lost yet.



  1. Boy, these bad conditions cover a big area. We are well behind average here in Sask. too. No seeding at all in this area and I am about the only one out in the field working some firegaurds and burning last years flax straw. It's finally dried a little so we can work the high spots but still many acres either under water or too wet to work. Its going to be late seeding here for sure.

  2. Yes Ralph, this covers a huge area. Only 87% of the corn planted in the states and it will be the end of may before some of us get any planted! For one time in my life I am not worried at all. Worry makes me fret and hurry and the results are not good.