Wet conditions continue to keep Central Illinois farmers out of the fields. (Photo contributed by DeAnna Thomas)
By Carrie Muehling
LONDON MILLS, Ill. – The fact that farmers in his large territory from the Mississippi River to McLean County have no corn planted yet is of little concern to Lance Tarochione, technical agronomist with DEKALB/Asgrow.
“[There is] virtually nothing planted in my area, and I don’t feel too bad about that, frankly. If we’d have gotten out in that early planting window, I think we would have had a lot of stands that would have ended up being less than optimal,” said Tarochione.
Farmers just haven’t had the right conditions yet and many are getting nervous as they look at the calendar date. Compared to last year, this is extremely late. But compared to average planting dates, this is the prime planting window. Tarochione said it would be ideal if farmers could go to the field today, but the fields are not there yet.
“It’s bad enough when you’re a little bit late planting, but if you have to plant late in wet soils, that really makes it worse,” said Tarochione.
Four or five days of 70 degrees and sunshine with a nice breeze would help immensely. Tarochione believes farmers are days and not weeks away from getting into some of the drier fields with a little better weather pattern.
“If you could do everything in one day, historical averages would say this would be a pretty good day to plant your crop. We’re really in the prime yield window right now. We’re two or three weeks away from starting to lose measurable yield,” said Tarochione.
Later in May, the yield potential for corn begins to slip away. But the weather during June, July and August is more critical than conditions during planting.
“If you look at historical yield trends, there’s not a very good correlation between the average corn yield of the state and the average planting date. But there is a very high correlation to how hot and dry it was in the summer, and certainly we experienced that last year,” said Tarochione.
Last year’s planting conditions were perfect, but the crop suffered because of drought conditions during critical part of the growing season. Later planting usually puts pollination during a less favorable time of the summer when there could be very hot and dry conditions. Tarochione said farmers should be able to use full season corn hybrids for at least another three or maybe even four weeks without running into problems.
Many farmers are waiting to try variable rate planting this year, where they plant different populations of the same hybrid within the same field. Tarochione said those field prescriptions could be even more beneficial with late planting and imperfect conditions.
Carrie Muehling can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.