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Jury still out on whether April 27 was a good day to plant

Jury still out on whether April 27 was a good day to plant
Crop Watch: Wet, cool weather has farmers playing waiting game to assess stands.

More than three weeks ago, planting corn on April 27 in central Indiana seemed like the right thing to do. Soils were warm. While cooler weather and rain was predicted, if the soils were warm enough, odds favored the corn emerging even if it did turn cool.

FUTURE UNCERTAIN: Cool, wet weather after planting was not kind to the Crop Watch field. All but two days of the first three weeks featured rain. The outlook for the field is still uncertain.

Playing armchair quarterback and knowing there were 15 days of mostly cool weather with rain almost every day, it might be easy to second-guess that decision. Based on observations just a few days ago, it’s too early to make that judgment call. The stand may turn out to be adequate, and it may not, especially in certain parts of the field. Even if it’s not, soils are so wet there that it’s unlikely the farmers have had a chance to either tear up the field or spot in more corn by now anyway. Plus, they had several thousand acres to plant the first time.

Observations were made 15 days after planting. In some areas of the field, corn could be rowed, and as you walked down the rows, the stand looked nearly perfect. In other areas, especially where soils were wetter, fewer plants emerged. If you looked closely, plants were peeking through or about ready too, except in the wettest areas. In a couple of areas with poor natural drainage, no plants emerged yet.

A couple things are obvious. Emergence isn’t as uniform as the farmers like, although it may be uniform within an area of the field. Second, there seemed to be a direct connection between soil type and emergence, with wetter, cooler soils lagging behind. Third, while it’s too early to tell, there could be an effect based on hybrid. These farmers plant two hybrids across the field so that there are 24-row blocks of each.

On the plus side, the corn was green, and they haven’t yet found any rotten kernels. When they’ve found kernels not yet emerged, they’re in some phase of germinating.

Will they need to replant? Will they spot in some more corn on certain soil types? Will it be so late when they can get in that they decide to go with what they have? Tune in next week for further updates on this field.

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