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Serving: IN

Last Days to Attempt Planting Corn Coming Quickly

Odds turning long against planting corn.

The longest day of the year is only a couple days away. That's not the ideal time to plant corn. It's no longer 'knee-high' by the Fourth of July to get impressive yields. In ideal situations, it's tasseling by the Fourth of July now. That's only two weeks and change away. That's what you're up against if you try to put seed in the ground now, even if it
is either the first chance you've had to do so, or the first chance for replanting, after a horrendous spring.

Bob Nielsen, Purdue University corn specialist, has posted excellent information about replanting and other considerations related to the late season and flood damage on his Website: It's definitely worth a look. Look for the article 'Replant Considerations for Flooded Corn.'

Nielsen presents tables there which show approximate 'safe' relative hybrid maturities for super-late planting dates. 'Safe' is relative, and is based upon average dates of the first killing freeze for various points in Indiana. If this season is anything, it's not average, but judge that as you like.

Suppose you are still thinking about planting corn June 21, two days form now and the longest day of the year. In northwest and north central Indiana, you need a 99-day and 98-day hybrid, respectively to have it mature by the week of the expected first frost;. But if you're not that aggressive, and want a week cushion in maturity before the expected fall frost, you're looking at 96 day hybrids. If you're still trying to plant June 28, you're looking at 92 and 91 day hybrids to have that week window in the fall.

The situation isn't quite as dire in central Indiana planting June 21, but you're still looking at a 105 day hybrid to mature by the date of the average first fall frost date, and a 107-day hybrid to have a week cushion. In southwest Indiana, respective hybrid maturities are 118 and 117 days, respectively. That's because the growing season is typically longer, and extended in the fall as you move into the southern extremes of the Hoosier state.

There are plenty of kickers that go along with the table, however, Nielsen notes. First of all, most agronomists believe that corn planted in late June, especially in the northern two-thirds of Indiana, would likely only yield 50% of normal corn yields, even if it reaches maturity before frost. Truth is there is little scientific data to prove that, because most corn yield experiments of the past don't extend into a lat June planting date, but it's an educated guess by agronomists that going super late will impact yield potential that severely. With crop prices where they are, however, some may still consider it worth the risk, especially if the field was sprayed with herbicides that doesn't make coming back with soybeans practical.

The other challenge will be finding hybrids that would fit the time frame window, and still fit your area. Especially as you move south in Indiana, be cautious that hybrids you're offered could stand up to potential disease pressures typically encountered in that area, Nielsen warns. Check with your seed dealer to see what's available if you're still considering this option.

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