Time Management Key During Corn Planting Time

Trying to outguess weatherman casn lead to letting the tractor sit when it doesn't make sense.

Published on: Apr 30, 2012

It's April 30 or maybe it's May 3. The weatherman is calling for rain. So even though the soil is in good shape, you hold off planting and let it sit when you could have put in 100 acres today. You're worried about 'hitting the wrong two days to plant' that occur every year, and often occur after a rain and cold spell. Did you make the right call?

Obviously, there's no right or wrong answer to this question. Here are the trade-offs. The problem with the 'wrong day to plant' phenomenon, although it is very real, is that you never know what the dates are until the season is over and the corn or soybean crop is evaluated for stand. The odds may be higher if a wet spell is forecast, but there's a problem with that as well- accuracy of the forecast.

Time Management Key During Corn Planting Time
Time Management Key During Corn Planting Time

During the last week of April, some farmers in Indiana waited for two days because the weatherman kept calling for a big rain. It finally rained, after they missed it two days in a row. For some, that's 300 acres that didn't get planted the last week of April, known as a prime planting window on average, when soil conditions as far as moisture and making a good seedbed were right.

If you want to play percentages, the Purdue University Corn and Soybean Field Guide says that after the first few days of May, your odds of obtaining a 100%A of potential corn crop dwindle. At first it's only by a small amount, but by May 15 it's a sizable amount. The pattern is less clear for soybeans, but indications are that early planting pays for that crop as well.

The bottom line is that if you pass up planting days now, there are no guarantees when you'll get another shot. It's OK to plan based on weather conditions and your soil types and past farm history, but don't let the weatherman talk you out of doing what makes sense. If one rain leads to another when it does finally rain, wheels don't turn for days or weeks, and the calendar marches on. Suddenly you're into late planting when you could have avoided it, at least on some acres.