Thursday, May 1, 2014

Delayed Corn Planting Doesn't Mean Lower Yields

Chad Lee, Extension Agronomist, University of Kentucky

Corn planting is slower across the majority of Kentucky this year. Again, we are faced with the temptation to get into fields as soon as possible. Simply having some corn in the fields will help us sleep better at night. But if we get into the fields too early we may have nightmares later in the season. Getting into a field one day too early often leads to sidewall compaction, which can severely hurt yields.

Before we loose more sleep right now, we need to remember that we are farther along this year than we we were at this same point last year (Table 1). Also, there is no correlation between corn planting progress at this point and final yield for Kentucky. There is no correlation between corn planting progress for next week (1st week of May or Week 18) and final yield, either. Nor is there a correlation between planting progress and final yield for the second week of May (Week 19).

There are favorable forecasts for most of next week (first full week of May), so we should have time for soils to dry and time to plant corn into really good conditions. Finally, we are better off to not look at the calendar and simply look at our soil conditions before planting. 

Table 1. Corn Planting Progress for Week 17 in Kentucky from 2007 to 2014.
Week 17 is typically the last week of April.

Figure 1. Kentucky average corn yield and Week 17 planting progress.
Week 17 is typically the last week of April.

Figure 2. Kentucky average yield and week 18 planting progress.
Week 18 is typically the first week of May.

Figure 3. Kentucky average yield and week 19 planting progress.
Week 19 is typically the 2nd week of May.

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