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When Will Calendar Watchers Begin Biting Their Fingernails?

When Will Calendar Watchers Begin Biting Their Fingernails?

Days fall off like leaves while planter sits still.

Nothing is more frustrating than watching it rain or waiting for soils to dry out when you want to be in the field planting corn.

But when does the frustration turn to nail-biting because you fear you're sacrificing yield potential? Well, that depends on where you live, your soil types and how much risk you typically take in deciding when to plant – not necessarily in that order.

Everybody has their trigger date, whether it's May 1, May 15 or later. Almost everyone goes into panic mode by June 1, no matter where you live.

More capacity: Bigger tractors and bigger implements like this spreader mean you can cover more acres in a day than in the past … when conditions are right.

There might be a few who are in panic mode today. It's early, most would say. If you've got a ton of acres to plant, and you begin calculating how many days it takes to plant your acreage, it may not seem like it's so early. The feeling is especially compounded because you likely planted early last year.

Retired Purdue University ag economist Howard Doster used to say you could expect about 10 good planting days in a month in the Midwest. He tried to help farmers size their equipment around that hypothesis, while retaining an economical line-up of machines that would let him plant and harvest in a timely manner.

The concept still holds, but the difference is that most people today are farming more acres, and therefore need bigger machines. It may still take the same number of available days to get the crop in, as it did 10, 20 or even 30 years ago, but there are reasons for that. For some people, it's because they're doing less tillage, which speeds up planting in most situations. Or maybe you plant corn and soybeans at the same time.

Regardless, most would agree it's not time to pull out the Alka-Seltzer yet. Because of that increased planting capacity on most farms, there's still plenty of time to get the crop planted in a timely manner – if the weather cooperates. If it doesn't, it may be a different story.  And if it becomes necessary to write that story, you will find it here.

Just remember that most people can count on one hand the number of times they didn't get a field planted into anything. The day for planting will come. For now, try playing golf or just relax until the soils are right. Then when it's fit to run, you can run hard.

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