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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


No Worries. Late Planted Corn May Not Be So Late

May 22, 2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio weather conditions can turn on a dime. One minute, rains are preventing a timely corn planting, and the next minute sunny skies are paving the way to play catch-up.

Corn planting may be behind schedule now, according to the Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service, but by the end of May nearly all of the corn could be in the ground, said Peter Thomison, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist.

"Although corn yield potential generally begins to decline after May 10, good yields are still possible with late May plantings," said Thomison, who also holds an Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center appointment.

It's when corn planting drags into June that the crop could be subjected to problems later in the season, as late planted corn is more sensitive to drought stress, more vulnerable to stalk quality issues, and more prone to disease and insect problems.

"A lot of times late planted corn is associated with lower yields because the crop is subjected to less favorable growing conditions (high temperatures and less moisture) during grain fill. That puts more stress on the crop and hurts the yield potential," said Thomison. "Much of what impacts the crop has more to do with what corn experiences later in the season than conditions at the time of planting."

Everything from a drought to a hurricane has the potential to hurt the corn crop more than late spring planting, said Thomison.

"The real issues growers will be facing this season once they do get their corn in the ground are controlling weeds and managing nitrogen fertility," said Thomison.

On the bright side, most growers do not need to be concerned about switching to shorter season hybrids.

"One argument for switching to shorter season hybrids right now is if a grower is concerned about drying down corn. Shorter season hybrids can help reduce drying costs," said Thomison. "However, for the most part, growers are better off sticking with the hybrids they have now. Soil temperatures have been fairly cool, and early planted corn is just now beginning to develop. So corn planted this week will not be that far behind early planted corn in terms of maturity."

For now, Thomison recommends that growers focus on the dry fields for corn planting and delay planting fields that may still be soggy.

For the latest information on Ohio corn production, log on to the OSU Extension Agronomic Crops Team Web site at

Corn is Ohio's most valuable field crop commodity. According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, corn production contributes $2.1 billion to agriculture. Feed grain serves as a main component of corn production, but the crop is also becoming an integral source for ethanol.

Candace Pollock
Peter Thomison