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HomeIndustry NewsGet the Most Out of Late-Planted Corn and Soybean Crops

Get the Most Out of Late-Planted Corn and Soybean Crops

WESTFIELD, Ind. (June 6, 2024) 鈥撀燱hen wet weather slows planting, it鈥檚 easy for farmers to doubt the potential of their crops, says AgriGold Agronomist Josh Johnston. 鈥淚 want them to take comfort knowing they can still grow really good corn and soybeans.鈥

鈥淚f we lose yield by planting late, we can gain it back by slowing the corn crop down in the fall,鈥 Johnston says. 鈥淎ugust tends to bring some cooler nights, and corn loves finishing in that.鈥

The season and your management strategy will dictate how crops turn out.

Soils are less forgiving with late-planted crops
Farmers working to manage the workload of a growing season on a condensed time frame should think critically about what they can push and what they can鈥檛. Planting and working ground are two areas that shouldn鈥檛 be rushed, according to Johnston. 鈥淢istakes with either of these will have season-long ramifications.鈥

Soils typically stay moist and are, therefore, more forgiving of mistakes in March and April. 鈥淭here鈥檚 more heat intensity later in the season, so a horizontal layer will turn into concrete that roots can鈥檛 penetrate,鈥 Johnston says. 鈥淯nless it rains often, you鈥檒l face trouble.鈥

Also, keep in mind it takes fewer growing degree units (GDUs) to reach black layer with later-planted crops. 鈥淐orn requires 6.8 fewer GDUs to reach black layer each day planting goes past May 1, according to聽,鈥 Johnston says. 鈥淭hat鈥檚 important to know when calculating if it鈥檚 too late to plant/replant.鈥

Dial back corn and scale up soybean populations
For those still waiting to get seed in the ground, Johnston鈥檚 No. 1 recommendation for corn is to reduce the seeding population by 1,500 to 2,000 plants per acre.

鈥淲e typically have more heat with late planting, so we usually get a good stand,鈥 he says. 鈥淧lus, lowering your plant population will help alleviate some of that stress during critical time frames like pollination when heat and drought are more likely.鈥

He recommends the opposite for soybeans. The reason for that goes back to the differences between corn and soybeans. Corn is a day-neutral plant that鈥檚 solely driven by heat. Soybeans, on the other hand, are short-day plants. 鈥淎s the day length shortens, they鈥檙e triggered to go into reproduction,鈥 Johnston explains.

He advises increasing soybean planting populations and modifying maturities to keep soybeans in the vegetative stages deeper into the season.

Be vigilant and proactive when it comes to threats
Late planting comes with an elevated risk of insect or disease injury. 鈥淭he No. 1 line of defense for both threats is heavy crop monitoring,鈥 Johnston says.

His primary concern for northern farmers is聽. In recent years, the crop has been more mature when the disease ramped up, limiting the toll. But later planting dates for some areas paired with more conducive conditions for the disease could result in a harder hit this season.

Johnston鈥檚 main concern for farmers in southern areas of the country is southern rust. 鈥淓xposure to the disease will likely be longer than normal due to the planting delays.鈥

Pests could also cause more damage to late-seeded crops聽鈥斅爊amely corn earworm pressure in the South and corn rootworm to the north. Last season, Johnston says Kentucky faced 鈥渆xtremely high levels of earworm.鈥 Because this spring has been a 鈥渃arbon copy鈥 of last year, he鈥檚 bracing for another major battle with the pest.

Corn rootworm is a major concern for northern areas of the Corn Belt. Those regions are running a few GDUs ahead of the norm, which could result in earlier hatching of corn rootworm, Johnston warns. 鈥淧air that with younger corn with a smaller root system, and those larvae could cause a lot of trouble.鈥

Farmers need to be proactive with their fungicide program and any insecticide applications. 鈥淢ake applications before you see pressure in the fields for better control,鈥 Johnston advises.

He also encourages farmers to stay the course with their fertility plans. With late planting, it can be tempting to rein in fertility to save money. 鈥淚f you create a nutrient deficiency by pulling back some of your fertility, and then you add in the likelihood of increased environmental stress, you鈥檙e putting yourself in a losing situation,鈥 Johnston says.

Harvest considerations
Later-planted corn is always taller, making it more vulnerable to greensnap and storm damage. 鈥淔armers should consider what they can do to limit those risks, such as adjusting their row direction,鈥 Johnston says.

Those with late-planted corn should also plan on drying more corn. 鈥淥nce we get into November, it鈥檚 virtually impossible to naturally drive moisture out of the crop,鈥 Johnston says.

Want more support navigating this season鈥檚 challenges?聽聽to your local AgriGold agronomist.

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