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Farmers across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast are still far behind in corn and soybean plantings.

Chris Torres, Editor, American Agriculturist

May 28, 2020

4 Min Read
Young corn plants have just emerged in Lancaster County, Pa.
BARELY EMERGED: It’s starting to feel like summer across the region, but corn has barely emerged on farms in Lancaster County, Pa.Chris Torres

It was a different Memorial Day than years past, but the start to summer brought some much needed warmer and drier temperatures for growers to get crops in.

According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Crop Progress Report, farmers in Pennsylvania are almost caught up with planting with 47% of corn planted as of Tuesday, behind the five-year average of 65%. Only 10% of the crop has emerged, though, well behind the five-year average of 41%.

Soybeans are 31% planted, just behind the 39% five-year average. Only 5% of the plant has emerged, behind the five-year average of 14%.

First-cut alfalfa is 11% complete, behind last year’s pace of 15%. Winter wheat is 48% headed, ahead of last year’s pace of 47%.

Maryland farmers have planted 90% of the corn crop, ahead of the five-year pace of 78%. The emerged corn is 48%, behind the five-year average of 57%.

Soybeans are 19% planted, behind the five-year average of 31%.

Delaware corn planted is at the five-year average with 82% of the crop in the ground and 50% emerged, which is slightly behind the five-year average of 57%.

Soybeans are 25% planted, also right around average for this time of year, with 12% of the crop emerged.

Empire state farmers are also catching up with 33% of corn planted, behind the five-year average of 45%. Only 9% of the crop is emerged, behind the five-year average of 16%.

Soybeans are 23% planted, ahead of the five-year average of 22%.

Decisions to keep an eye on

Soon comes the crucial point in the growing season when Mother Nature’s actions will largely decide what sort of yield to expect this fall.

But not everything is out of a farmer’s control.

Jeff Graybill, Penn State Extension agronomist, says there are many things farmers should be thinking about as tasseling, silking and pollination come into play.

“At tasseling time, the main decisions for this year’s crop would be should you use a fungicide? Weather patterns, soil types, field location (in a valley, next to a stream or in a high humidity area), field history and hybrid characteristics all can come into play when deciding to use a fungicide,” he says. “Then there are other practical issues such as the cost of the product and the cost of application. How much corn will you run down, etc, will all effect the return on this additional investment.”

A farmer inspects the tassel of a corn plant
TASSELING TIME: This is the time when Mother Nature will have her say in what kind of corn and soybean yields you’ll see, but there are things you should keep an eye on to secure a good yield.

Should you use an insecticide? That depends.  

“I have seen fields where they did include an insecticide as a prophylactic treatment and then saw a flair in corn aphids, apparently because the beneficial predator population had been wiped out. So, I would caution against an insecticide unless you are going after a specific pest,” he says.

Even though harvest is still many months away, this is also a good time to evaluate what things went well and what things went wrong.

“This is a good time to also think about how well I did and plan for next year,” Graybill says. “Is the corn uniform? Is it silking and tasseling together or are areas of the field significantly delayed and uneven? If so, what is the stress which is causing this, and can it be addressed now or next season? Did I plant too wet? Is it fertility related?”

When it comes to soybeans, check for yield-robbing weeds and diseases.

“As far as soybeans go, evaluate late-season weed control,” he says. “At this time of year any weed escapes or potentially herbicide-resistant weeds such as Palmer and marestail should be standing up above the canopy and easily visible. Can I do a rescue treatment? What product will have activity on these weeds?

“Also, some of the same issues with a fungicide application. Does the field have a history of white mold? If so and the weather is on the wet side, then a fungicide should be applied. Last year I combined these together at my farm and it worked out very well. I had one of the best bean crops ever?”

About the Author(s)

Chris Torres

Editor, American Agriculturist

Chris Torres, editor of American Agriculturist, previously worked at Lancaster Farming, where he started in 2006 as a staff writer and later became regional editor. Torres is a seven-time winner of the Keystone Press Awards, handed out by the Pennsylvania Press Association, and he is a Pennsylvania State University graduate.

Torres says he wants American Agriculturist to be farmers' "go-to product, continuing the legacy and high standard (former American Agriculturist editor) John Vogel has set." Torres succeeds Vogel, who retired after 47 years with Farm Progress and its related publications.

"The news business is a challenging job," Torres says. "It makes you think outside your small box, and you have to formulate what the reader wants to see from the overall product. It's rewarding to see a nice product in the end."

Torres' family is based in Lebanon County, Pa. His wife grew up on a small farm in Berks County, Pa., where they raised corn, soybeans, feeder cattle and more. Torres and his wife are parents to three young boys.

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