Rushville Republican

Agriculture

April 25, 2014

Indiana farmers forced to make tough corn planting decisions

WEST LAFAYETTE — For Indiana farmers with a lot of acreage to plant, two Purdue Extension agronomists say it’s probably time to start planting corn while keeping in mind best agronomic practices.

Until recent days, cold temperatures and wet soils kept growers from field operations, including tillage, fertilizer applications and planting. A few warm days at the end of last week had farmers out in full force, but with a cold extended forecast, many will have to decide whether to go ahead and plant corn or wait for warmer temperatures.

According to Bob Nielsen, it depends in large part on the amount of acreage a farmer has to plant.

“If you farm small enough to where you have less than a week’s worth of planting, I’d wait another week and let the soils warm up,” he said. “But clearly, if I had thousands of acres to plant, I’d go ahead this week if soils are fit. Some of these soils are drier than what we would expect, but it’s a field-by-field situation.”

The forecast for the next 10 days calls for below-normal temperatures with highs in the 50s and lows in the high-30s to low-40s.

“These temperatures are what we would have expected a couple of weeks ago, and that’s the time when farmers would have started planting in other years,” Nielsen said. “I think planting now is a moderate risk — nothing more than normal. If I had a lot of acres, I’d risk it.”

Part of the risk in planting when it’s cold is that corn might not emerge quickly enough, leaving it vulnerable to pests. The minimum temperature for corn development is 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to the April 21 Indiana Crop Progress and Condition Report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, only 1 percent of Indiana corn had been planted as of April 20, compared with a five-year average of 14 percent planted by the same date. Farmers in the state had only 3.7 days suitable for fieldwork in the two weeks prior to the report.

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