Consider Alternatives to Late-Planted/Replanted Corn

June 24, 2003

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Nearly all of the corn crop may be in the ground in Ohio, but unfavorable weather conditions may drive growers to plant an alternative crop in place of the small percentage of unplanted or replanted corn throughout the state. Peter Thomison, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist, said that corn can be planted as late as mid-June, although growers will be looking at significant yield reductions. “I would like to have seen all of our corn planted by the first week of June at the very latest. We can probably plant as late as mid-June because the corn can adjust to later planting dates, but we are looking at a significant yield drop,” said Thomison. “For corn planted after June 1, we are looking at a crop that’ll probably do no better than 100 bushels per acre. In southern Ohio, at least for silage purposes, growers can plant in late June and get a forage crop out of it.” According to the Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service, 97 percent of the corn has been planted with 96 percent of it emerged. But with recent persistent rains and cool to mild temperatures, only a little over half of the crop is rated in good to excellent condition. Over 70 percent of the topsoil is saturated. Thomison said that corn planted in April is established and growing well, while much of the corn planted the beginning of May is struggling in marginal fields plagued with saturated conditions and root diseases. Growers who have not yet planted or are facing replanting due to field conditions may be considering other crop alternatives. “If growers haven’t used corn herbicides and are in a good crop rotation system, soybeans is one crop that growers can consider,” said Thomison. “The major reason growers lean towards soybeans is because there is a market to sell it and growers are familiar with the crop.” Another crop that also shows promise as a replacement for corn is grain sorghum. “The potential use of grain sorghum always comes to the surface in years where we have late planting,” said Thomison. “It’s a good crop. It’s drought resistant, and has a better root system, tolerates stresses and grows better on marginal soils than corn.” Despite its good virtues, the crop does have its drawbacks. Ohio lacks a market for growers to sell their crop and with lack of short season hybrids available that are compatible with eastern Corn Belt conditions, growers would be scrambling to find seed and manage an unfamiliar crop during a crisis situation. “If growers have never handled grain sorghum before, we would not recommend they try a new crop under emergency conditions,” said Thomison. Growers interested in grain sorghum as an alternative crop can consult Purdue University’s grain sorghum production Web site at http://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/sorghum/index.html. For more information on selecting corn hybrids for late planting, consult OSU Extension Bulletin AY-312-W “Delayed Planting and Hybrid Maturity Decisions” at http://ohioline.osu.edu.

Author(s): 
Candace Pollock
Source(s): 
Peter Thomison