Planting Turnaround Leads to Positive Outlook on Corn
“Just because corn was planted later than we’d like doesn’t mean we need to stop managing this crop for extra bushels,” says Brad Hammes, Helena Product Specialist based in Iowa.
Hammes shared these thoughts after a turn in weather across the Corn Belt allowed farmers to make up for lost time. He believes there is still ample opportunity to be profitable this year, especially with such high commodity prices. Dr. Randy Simonson, AGRIntelligence Agronomist based in Illinois, shares Hammes’ optimism. For him, it’s less about when you plant than it is about how you plant.
“The most important thing is to plant right,” says Dr. Simonson. “Plant when it’s not too wet, plant at the right depth, and use a starter.”
According to Purdue University, planting date is only one of a number of factors working together to determine corn yield potential. The real test is managing what comes next. Simonson will be watching stand counts closely in the coming weeks. He encourages farmers to take plant populations and make sure they’re coming up even. If they don’t have a good population, there could be an insect to blame.
“The three main insects are wireworm, seed corn maggot and white grubs,” says Dr. Simonson. “Even with an insecticide on the seed, it might not be enough for those three insects. If we put a product like Ruckus® LFR in furrow, we can get control.”
While some might question the expense of an in-furrow insecticide, Dr. Simonson believes it’s a far better choice than having to replant. In addition to early-season insects, regular scouting of corn fields is needed to identify weed pressure. At this point in the season, the goal is to maximize herbicide supply by figuring out the best use of each chemistry from acre to acre.
Even though corn planted later has close to the same potential for success as a crop planted earlier, certain things become more important. One is managing the pace of growth. As Hammes explains, corn planted in mid to late May takes in more heat per day, causing the plant to grow faster. This can result in a condition called rapid growth syndrome.
“You’ll see leaves coming out white or pale yellow because they haven’t had enough time to develop,” says Hammes. “When you have that really fast growth, it can lead to an increased risk of in-season green snap and late-season stalk lodging.”
The same hot, humid conditions that can lead to rapid growth syndrome increase the potential for major storm events as the season progresses. Hammes recommends applying a potassium (K) product such as K-Leaf® Versa within the next month to strengthen the stalk and improve standability. On top of environmental stress, a shortened window of vegetative growth alone is a significant challenge for corn.
“Corn is taking up 5-6 pounds of nitrogen and as much as 8 pounds of K per acre per day,” says Hammes. “Putting something into a post pass in corn will be a huge opportunity to help that plant keep up with nutrient demand during rapid vegetative growth.”
Products like Megafol® and Orbix® are other nutritional options for corn farmers looking for ways to help their crop make it through stressful growth periods. Stay tuned for more Corn Wise tips from Helena experts throughout the season. Being Corn Wise means putting the right tools in place at the right time to maximize your corn crop, and ultimately, your ROI. Contact your local Helena representative to create your plan.