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Crop Watch field planted and on its wayCrop Watch field planted and on its way

Crop Watch: Field planted within the window to deliver maximum yield potential.

Tom Bechman

May 12, 2016

4 Min Read

The farmer who is planting the Crop Watch ’16 field had to make a tough call. He could plant on April 27 with rain threatening, or he could wait. Since soils were in good condition and the weather had been warm, with above-average temperatures for two weeks, he decided to plant, even though several days of rain and somewhat cooler weather were forecast.

Wet weather arrived as predicted. It was somewhat cooler, but not overly cooler than normal. It’s still too early to assess the success of emergence and early growth. Stay tuned.


Meanwhile, what does planting April 27 mean? According to the Purdue University Corn & Soybean Field Guide, published by the Purdue University Crop Diagnostic Training and Research Center, it means that based on planting date, it should be possible to obtain 100% of maximum yield potential. Put differently, planting was not delayed, so there should be no yield loss for the crop. 

According to the Purdue guide, yield loss can start as early as May 5 due to planting date alone. However, you can still obtain 97% of original yield potential, on average, if you plant by May 10, and 95% by May 15. It’s 91% by May 20 and 81% by May 30.

The caveat is that this assumes you obtain the stand you intended to achieve. The above numbers are for an intended final plant population of 32,000.

Population loss drops yield

If the wet, cool spell turns out to affect final stand, it could also affect yield potential. Based on data compiled for the Purdue guide, if you planted April 25 and obtained a final stand of 26,000 plants per acre, you could still expect 98% of final yield.

Even if you have 20,000 plants per acre, if the field was planted April 25, you would still be looking at 92% of original yield potential. That assumes the remaining plants are evenly spaced and there aren’t weed issues. At 92% for the April 25 planting, yield potential is still slightly higher than planting May 20 and obtaining a stand of 32,000 plants per acre.

On the other hand, if the field was planted May 20 and you only get 20,000 plants per acre, yield potential drops to 83% of original yield. By May 30, if weather doesn’t cooperate and you get 20,000 plants per acre, you can expect to achieve 73% of final yield.

Dave Nanda is very fond of early planting, and believes it is one of the keys that contributes to higher yields. However, this year he told farmers to be a bit cautious about planting too early when soil temperatures were still cold.

“The first full week of April set things back a bit,” he says. Later, temperatures warmed up again. By the last week of April, when the farmer was deciding whether to plant the Crop Watch ’16 field or not, soil temperatures were well above the 55 degrees F needed to ensure good corn emergence.

Time will tell whether he made the right decision. Keep checking here to find out.

Crop Watch ’16 is sponsored by Seed Consultants Inc. Along with regular reports, there is a yield estimation contest. Your job is to follow the information provided about the field, and then enter the contest by providing your best guess to the nearest tenth of a bushel per acre. Seed Consultants will provide valuable prizes in seed for the 2017 season to the top three entries coming closest to the actual yield. Entries are due postmarked by Sept. 15.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Contest open to legal residents of Indiana and/or Ohio who are 18 or older.  To enter, send your guess of the final Crop Watch yield to Indiana Prairie Farmer, P.O. Box 247, Franklin, IN 46131, or enter by email at [email protected]. All entries must be received by Sept. 15, 2016.  Winner is entrant closest to final yield for the Crop Watch field.  Void outside of the fifty (50) United States and District of Columbia and where prohibited by law.  To obtain Full Rules, visit farmprogress.com/cropwatchcontest.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm, Indiana Prairie Farmer

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