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Really Late Planted Corn (05/30/19)

With more than a third of the corn acres yet to be planted and the final planting date for full crop insurance past (May 25th for most of the state) or fast approaching (May 31st for several counties in the southeastern corner of the state), some growers may be wondering if they should continue with their plan to plant corn, switch to another crop or take prevent plant.

With more than a third of the corn acres yet to be planted and the final planting date for full crop insurance past (May 25th for most of the state) or fast approaching (May 31st for several counties in the southeastern corner of the state), some growers may be wondering if they should continue with their plan to plant corn, switch to another crop or take prevent plant. This decision is further complicated by the fact that a crop must be planted in order to quality for payments from the new round of the trade mitigation program.

As I understand it, crop insurance coverage is reduced by 1% per day after the final planting date up to 20 days. Yield is also negatively impacted by late planting. However, there is limited recent data on the effect of planting very late on corn yield in North Dakota. Therefore, I rely on data developed for the more northern region of Wisconsin (http://corn.agronomy.wisc.edu/Pubs/UWEX/A3353.pdf) to get an estimate of the kind of losses we might experience in North Dakota. These data show a 35% reduction in yield when planting is delayed to June 1st (slightly more loss than 1% per day from the recommended planting date of May 1st). Moreover, when planting is delayed to June 10th yield is reduced by 54%. This suggests that the potential for yield loss accelerates when planting is delay beyond June 1st. With current hybrids, these scenarios may be somewhat pessimistic. Certainly, there are some higher yielding earlier maturing hybrids currently available that were not available when this chart was developed. In addition to yield, excessive grain moisture at harvest is a concern when planting is delayed. Wet corn is more difficult to handle at harvest and expensive to dry.                                                                                                                                                                                 

When recommending a relative maturity of a hybrid, I like to have the hybrid mature prior to or during the last week of September so that there is adequate warm weather (relatively speaking) to dry down the crop to a reasonable moisture level before temperatures get too cold in November. To look at the effect of planting date and the relative maturity of the hybrid planted on when the crop will reach physiological maturity (around 32% moisture), I ran simulations using the U2U Corn GGD tool (https://hprcc.unl.edu/gdd.php#) for locations near Fargo and Carrington (Table 1). Based on these simulations, farmers around Fargo would need to switch to an 80 RM hybrid if planting is delayed until June 10th in order to have it reach PM prior to the first of October. Growers around Carrington would need to switch to a 75 RM hybrid to achieve the same level of maturity. These simulations assume that we will have normal weather this season. Currently we are running 100 GDD behind normal from May 1st, but hopefully we will catch up soon. This week looks promising!

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Joel Ransom

Extension Agronomist, Small Grains and Corn

This site is supported in part by the Crop Protection and Pest Management Program [grant no. 2017-70006-27144/accession 1013592] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the website author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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