Late Planting Doesn't Require As Many Seeds Per Acre

Take advantage of warmer soils.

If the Corn Illustrated plots conducted by Farm Progress Companies for the past two years proved anything, it was that earlier-planted crops may have a yield advantage, but are more likely to encounter problems emerging and getting off to a good start. That's especially true with some hybrids. Last season's population study with two hybrids exposed a weakness in the top yielder of the pair. Under very cool, wet conditions after planting, the hybrid was slower to emerge, and established fewer plants per acre.


What all this means right now is that if you still have corn to plant, since it's May 25 or alter, you can back off your seeding rate and still have an excellent chance of reaching the harvest population goal in each field. That's according to Dave Nanda, who conducted for Corn Illustrated, and who now is president of Bird Hybrids, Tiffin, Ohio.,


It's not every day that someone with seed to sell talks about planting less seed, especially when seed corn, if it's triple-stack with all the bells and whistles, can cost around $3 per 1,000 kernels. But Nanda says that if you intended to plant 32,000 when you hoped to plant in April, you can likely plant 30,000 now and still reach the same number of plants per acre at harvest as you would have before. Likewise, if you were going to plant 30,000, you might consider backing down to 29,000. That can save you from $3 to $6 per acre in seed costs alone.


The whole secret is in the timing of planting, Nanda says. Especially this late in the season, soils are already warm. Even a cool snap won't cool soil temperatures significantly, and it's soil temperatures that count when it comes to determining if seeds will sprout and grow or not.


You will still have a certain percentage of seeds that simply don't germinate. That's why seed corn bags are typically tagged at 95%, perhaps a bit higher or lower. So if you planted 30,000 seeds per acre, the guaranteed possible emergence, even under good conditions, would be 28,500. Typically, you'll see somewhat better emergence than state don the tag, but the tag is what the company is guaranteeing, based on lab tests.


Those tests are done under rather good conditions, much like conditions should be like planting in late May or even early June. It's the key reason Nanda says it's OK to back off seeding rates this late in the planting season. After all, it's plants and ears per acre, not seeds planted, that actually determine final yield, he emphasizes.

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