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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Ohio State Expert: Late Planting Can Still Result in Strong Yields if Corn Growers Make Adjustments

February 23, 2012

ADA, Ohio – While late planting concerns may cause some growers to reconsider planting corn, an Ohio State University Extension specialist says producers may not have to fear lower yields when planting late if they make some adjustments and still manage the late-planted corn as effectively as they manage early planted corn.

Doing so not only could help growers increase yield potential, but also save growers money, said Peter Thomison, an OSU Extension agronomist.

As evidenced last year when major weather challenges at planting caused a majority of corn growers statewide to plant corn after May 31, many not until the first week of June, but still come away with yields largely better than expected statewide, slight adjustments can make a huge difference, he said.

Thomison said he wants to make sure that growers don’t “throw in the towel for late growing situations.”

“When you’re planting in early June, you expect lower yield potential,” he said. “But this past year, the results really defied conventional wisdom because in some cases, late-planted corn after May 31 quite often out-yielded the corn planted in mid-May.”

While crop growers may see these outstanding yields, Thomison doesn’t want growers to think that this is a new planting strategy they should consider on a normal basis.

“But if a grower is confronted with late planting, they can still manage corn effectively as they would manage early-planted corn and make adjustments that could cut their costs,” he said.

Thomison will talk about the kinds of adjustments growers should make when late planting during a presentation March 6 at the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference. His session begins at 4:35 p.m. and will offer strategies and tips for growers on what they’ll need to know about late planting adjustments, he said.

The workshop is a part of Corn University, a series of presentations that Thomison will moderate, in which corn agronomists from the University of Illinois, the University of Missouri, Penn State University and Dow AgroScience will address pressing issues of interest to corn farmers, and agriculture industry representatives.

Continuous improvements in corn genetics and traits contributed to impressive yields last year, Thomison said. But late planting conditions coupled with high heat and below-average rainfall throughout the growing season could have spelled disaster for Ohio’s corn crop, he said.

“We didn’t get much corn planted until the end of May, which is way behind but not unusual,” Thomison said. “In fact, more than 25 percent of the time we’re planted later than the rest of the Corn Belt.”

Thomison said that while standard recommendations are to plant corn by May 10 to optimize yields, growers who don’t choose to switch to soybeans could consider making adjustments to increase yield potential or profit including adjusting planting depth, seeding rate, nitrogen application and hybrid selection.

The Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference is sponsored by OSU Extension, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Northwest Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Districts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Ohio No-Till Council.

The full schedule and registration information can be found at Participants may register online or by mail. Registration for the full conference is $80 (or $60 for one day) if received by Feb. 24. Information is also available in county offices of OSU Extension.

Tracy Turner
Peter Thomison