Farmers Fired Up and Ready to Roll in Southern Corn Belt

Planters out of tool sheds sign that planting season is closed.

Published on: Mar 28, 2011

The weather may have turned cold for a few days again last week, but it didn't keep farmers from continuing to get their planters and air seeders and drills ready to go for spring. One planter was spotted at a dealership where they were going through the units. Others have been spotted in barnlots. Maybe no one drops the green flag and says 'Farmers, start your engines,' but some farmers do wait for one other signal.

Those who participate in crop insurance pay attention to what's called the first planting day.' Corn planted before that day isn't eligible for replant insurance. It's typically an early date in that region of the country.

What fuels the desire to plant early? Because farmer after farmer says that almost always and definitely more years than not, early planting pays off in higher yields and fewer problems. Often the early corn pollinates and is flowering stage or past it before the hottest, driest weather of the year settles in. That should give an advantage to early planted corn. It was a definite advantage a year ago. Early-planted corn once again performed more consistently than later-planted corn.

One farmer says he may start if the weather is right whether the insurance date has passed or not. That's how important he believes it is to get corn out on time. The other factor is that he has lots of corn to plant. He is heavily married to corn after corn, partly because of his soil type.

By maintaining good soil fertility, adding adequate nitrogen and sampling often to make sure pH stays in line, he has not had trouble raising top-quality yields on corn after corn.

When he puts a pencil to it, corn after corn on his better land is better than soybeans or even wheat and doublecrop soybeans. As the old saying goes, dance with what 'brung you.' For this farmer, early planting and corn after corn, cared for properly, seem to work best on his farm compared to any other planting date and cropping combination.