The trend toward planting no-till corn earlier continues to grow. Increasing farm size and the need to cover a large number of acres within a shorter window of time make early corn planting necessary to avoid planting delays and potential late-season drought and pest problems toward the end of the growing season.
According to scientists with Pioneer Hi-Bred, this trend presents growers with several crop management challenges that can impact crop productivity significantly.
Selecting the best planting date is the most critical decision growers must make to enable a crop to have a successful start, says Imad Saab, Pioneer research scientist. Growers should pay close attention to weather forecasts and consider specific field conditions and characteristics before deciding on a planting date. "Knowing the history of your fields—what planting dates have worked, the soil type and drainage characteristics — is very beneficial," Saab says. "Growers should consider waiting for warmer conditions before planting fields that are not as well-drained or those with a track record of early season insect pressure or seedling blight."
Saab cautions that no-tillers may not pay enough attention to near-term forecasts. Growers who plant ahead of an inclement weather event, such as snow or heavy rain, are typically at a higher risk of losing corn stands to stress.
"We often hear of growers who speed up planting just ahead of a snowstorm to get the crop in the ground," Saab says. "There often are significant disadvantages to getting a crop in the ground…