STUesday – When is it time to plant?

When is it time to plant corn?


When is it time to plant corn, is always one of the hardest questions to answer in today’s world of extensive early vigor testing and seed treatments.  Farmers today have been taught that in general the earlier you plant the better off your yields seem to be in the fall.  The exception has been the growing season of 2014 when soil temps remained cold, air temperatures were extremely variable, soil remained damp and cold rains put corn seed into shock.  Mother Nature seems to always humble us just when we seem to think we are getting things figured out.  I think it maybe goes back to what my dad told me growing up, “Stuart you are getting too big for your britches”.  Sometimes we need to take a step back and think about what the last few years has taught us and not over react to what happened last year or what is going on in the current situation.

First a little history of what Mother Nature can present to us in the coming months.

*Records reported by NOAA in Sioux Falls, South Dakota from 1893 to 2015.

  • Snowiest (by Month)
    • March 5 inches in 1951
    • April 4 inches in 1983
    • May 0 inches in 1944
    • June Trace in 1998
  • Latest Snowfall (24 hour period)
    • .. May  31, 1954
    • .. 0.1 inch    May  18, 1968
    • .. 2.0 inches  May  12, 1943
    • .. 10.5 inches  Apr. 28, 1994
  • Normal air temperature
    • Average daytime high air temperature above 60 degrees April 16th
    • Average nighttime low air temperature above 32 degrees April 9th


What did we learn from 2014?  Seed shock is real, would be the correct answer!  In 2014 good seed stand establishment was extremely difficult planting early.  We saw reduced stands all across the Corn Belt showing us that even though the soil conditions were ok what happens with the weather for the next 48 hours after we plant the seed is very important.  I would recommend looking at the 5 day forecast, 6-10 day outlook and 8-14 day outlook to make your planting decisions.  EXAMPLE BELOW:


Crop insurance early planting dates should also be a consideration.  These are not just numbers the RMA has come up with to keep farmers from planting too early.  The dates are statistically relevant.  Early plant date for some counties in: South Dakota is April 10th, Iowa is April 11th and April 15th in Nebraska.

When deciding to start planting you should always choose which field will warm up the best and which hybrid best suits that field for the best possible yield.