If you live in central or southern Indiana, Mike Earley would like to see you have your corn planted sometime between April 20 and May 10. If you live in southern Indiana, starting by April 5 is OK, he says.
"If you plant late there is a bigger chance for insect and disease problems, and also the odds for pollinating during the hottest, driest part of the summer are higher," says Earley, an agronomist with Seed Consultants, Inc. He spoke recently to farmers from Richmond to Batesville and beyond who gathered for a meeting at Seymour.
Earley points to data that shows a 0.3% per day loss for planting after May 10, on average, with the loss jumping to 1% per day in late May.
However, he's also a realist. "Early planting in good conditions is a recommended practice, but it doesn't guarantee good yields," he says. Earley realizes that over the past few seasons, weather conditions haven't always favored early planting. Year in and year out, however, he still recommends the practice.
However, he adds one big caveat. "If you have to mud it in, then wait," he says. "You can lose more yield by mudding it in than what you would lose in planting delays by not having it planted by a certain date."
If you mud it in, the risk of soil compaction is much higher, he said. Depending upon weather conditions later in the season, soil compaction can cause restricted root systems, and lead to stunted corn and yield reductions, especially if it turns dry.
Sidewall soil compaction created by the planter openers running in wet to muddy soil is also an issue, he says. If roots are restricted to the planting trench as they grow downward, they won't be as healthy or as strong or productive as if they can branch out in non-compacted soil.