Is Poor Weather Taking A Toll On No-Tilled Corn?

Poor planting and crop growing weather may have as much to do with a decline in no-till corn acres as anything else.

Ask Terry Schneider about the problems holding back the growth of no-till corn and he’ll tell you it’s been a lack of favorable weather conditions during most of the 90s.

The veteran no-tiller from Shirley, Ill., says favorable weather conditions would do more than practically anything else to expand no-till corn acres.

Dan Towery, an agronomist with the Conservation Technology Information Center in West Lafayette, Ind., agrees. “Weather problems have definitely caused some farmers to fall back on traditional tillage systems,” he says.

Concerned about the future growth of no-tilled corn, a group of farmers, university educators, crop consultants and state and federal conservation agency folks met last summer in Lebanon, Ind., to review trends and share strategies about expanding no-till corn acreage.

Dave Swaim maintains cold wet weather patterns have discouraged no-till corn production. The crop consultant from Crawfordsville, Ind., says there’s also peer pressure from landlords since many no-tilled fields look ragged early in the growing season. Landowners are also concerned that wet areas are not necessarily ideal for no-till.

Hard To Wait

Bob Nielsen, a Purdue university corn specialist, says it’s difficult to get farmers to wait until soil conditions are ideal to no-till. “Planting, custom application of chemicals and the use of grain carts at harvest all contribute to soil compaction,” he explains. “The challenge is to deal with humid conditions when no-tilling heavier textured soils.

“No-till works best where there are soil erosion benefits, moisture conservation benefits and an adaptable climate.”

Purdue University agronomist Tony…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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