The debate is as old as growing hybrid corn itself. If you purchase a wide range of maturities, which corn do you plant first once conditions are right this spring? Do you plant the full-season hybrids first? That's what agronomists have traditionally recommended. That way, the hybrid has the full growing season to express its' yield potential. Conventional wisdom says fuller-season hybrids should yield more, although with some of the outstanding earlier-maturing hybrids available within the past two decades, it's uncertain whether that old maxim always applies or not.
'Jeff Nagel, an Indiana Certified Crop Advisor and agronomist with Ceres Solutions, Lafayette, says that while he understands the traditional strategy, there may be reasons why someone would want to rethink their planting strategy, both for corn and soybeans today.
'Part of it relates to being able to plant corn and/or soybeans in a short time period today, compared to decades ago. If early-maturing hybrids are planted first, he reasons, and fuller –season hybrids are planted a week later, planting the early ones first might actually spread weather risk.
'With the reverse, and with both planted so close together because big equipment can cover more acres today, a full-season hybrid planted earlier and an early-season hybrid planted later might pollinate at the same time. That wouldn't spread weather risk if the concern is everything pollinating at the same time, when the weather might not be favorable for pollination and crop development.
'The monkey wrench, of course, is if weather conditions will allow a 10-day planting stretch when a farmer could literally plant all of his corn, even if he has 3,000 acres or more. Or would it be interrupted by showers and naturally spread over a month or so anyway?
'If it's going to rain for two weeks in mid-May as it did last year, then most people would wish they had their full season corn growing and early-season corn in the bag, instead of the reverse. Unfortunately, forecasting weather that precisely isn't yet possible. It's one of the factors to consider when planning your strategy for which hybrids go into the planter first this spring once planting begins.