It's Back To Basics In 2013

File 2012 records under 'drought year' and don't base planting decisions on this year alone.

Published on: Nov 5, 2012

Corn-growing specialists say the best strategy is to go back to the basics for 2013. If you base your decisions off 2012 and you were hit hard by the drought, you may draw some conclusions that wind up costing you money if next year is a good growing season.

You'll have to assess your own risk. Right now there is no one who could foresee drought that far out. The only thing that's fact is that the Western Corn Belt is still in a drought, and will need moisture at some point to recharge before spring. If it doesn't recharge, dry weather affecting the crop is more likely. At the same time, the Eastern Corn Belt is already recharged in many areas, with more recharge expected.

Back To Basics: Soils couldnt handle 30,000 plants during the worst drought in the Eastern Corn Belt in 75 years, but that doesnt stop Bob Nielsen from recommending it for next year.
Back To Basics: Soils couldn't handle 30,000 plants during the worst drought in the Eastern Corn Belt in 75 years, but that doesn't stop Bob Nielsen from recommending it for next year.

One decision you will need to make will be about corn populations. Plots in the mid-20,000 plants per acre range may have looked good this year, but Bob Nielsen, Purdue University corn Extension specialist, doesn't advise going back to that. Instead, do what you did before. The only caveat he adds is that might be tempered somewhat by what you were doing before.

Based on his plots over time he recommends planting at 30,000 to 32,000 seeds per acre. He doesn't see an advantage for higher seeding rates, based on his plot results. He has not finished harvest this season, but he will file this year's results in an archive marked 'drought years' and not make decisions for 2013 based upon 2012.

He believes you ought to spend some time on hybrid selection. Take ownership in the selection process and don't leave the decision as to which hybrids you plant up to your seed rep alone. Look for corn hybrids that have performed well over a number of environments. The data is out there if you look hard enough for it, he emphasizes.