Mistakes made during crop establishment are usually irreversible, and can put a “ceiling” on a crop’s yield potential before the plants have even emerged. The following are some proven practices that will help get a corn crop off to a good start, according to Dr. Peter Thomison, OSU Agronomist.
Perform Tillage Operations Only When Necessary and Under the Proper Soil Conditions.
Avoid working wet soil and reduce secondary tillage passes. Perform secondary tillage operations only when necessary to prepare an adequate seedbed. Shallow compaction created by excessive secondary tillage can reduce crop yields. Deep tillage should only be used when a compacted zone has been identified and soil is relatively dry. Late summer and fall are the best times of year for deep tillage.
Complete Planting by Early May
The recommended time for planting corn in northern Ohio is April 15 to May 10. However if soil conditions are dry and soil temperatures are rising fast (and the 5 to 7 day forecast calls for favorable conditions), start planting before the optimum date. During the two to three weeks of optimal corn planting time, there is, on average, only one out of three days when field work can occur. Avoid early planting on poorly drained soils or those prone to ponding.
Adjust Seeding Depth According to Soil Conditions
Plant between 1-1/2 to 2 inches deep to provide for frost protection and adequate root development. Seeding depth should be monitored regularly during the planting operation and adjusted for varying weather and soil conditions. Irregular, especially shallow planting depths contribute to uneven plant emergence, which can reduce yields.
Adjust Seeding Rates on a Field-by-Field Basis
Adjust planting rates by using the yield potential of a site as a major criterion for determining the appropriate plant population. On soils that average about 150 bu/acre, a final stand of 30,000 plants per acre may be needed to optimize yields. Seeding rate can be cut to lower seed costs but this approach typically costs more than it saves.
Plant a Mix of Hybrid Maturities
Planting a mix of hybrids with different maturities reduces damage from diseases and environmental stress at different growth stages (improving the odds of successful pollination) and spreads out harvest time and workload.
Plant full‑season hybrids first
Planting a full‑season hybrid first, then alternately planting early‑season and mid‑season hybrids, allows the grower to take full advantage of maturity ranges and gives the late‑season hybrids the benefit of maximum heat unit accumulation. Full‑season hybrids generally show greater yield reduction when planting is delayed compared with short ‑to mid‑season hybrids.