Challenges Increase With Earlier No-Till Corn Planting

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.

Planting Date Selection

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…

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