Growers who want to make sure they get their corn crops off to a good start this season should make sure they perform tillage only when necessary and under the proper soil conditions, cautions a field crops expert with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

That’s just one of the tips Peter Thomison, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist, said can help growers avoid spring planting errors that could result in lower yield potential before the first plant has even emerged.

Thomison says growers should stick with proven practices when it comes to getting corn planted, including getting corn planted before May 10, after which the potential for optimal yields usually declines.

“However, growers who aren’t finding favorable planting conditions may want to hold off planting, especially if the weather forecast calls for cold, wet weather conditions,” he said. “Yield reductions from mudding in the corn can be more costly than delayed planting.

“If the conditions aren’t right, growers don’t need to rush in and mud their corn just for the sake of planting early. Some years we’ve had growers who’ve reported outstanding yields on corn that wasn’t planted until late May.”

Other tips Thomison says that growers can follow to get corn off to a good start include:

·      Avoid working with wet soil and reduce secondary tillage passes that could cause shallow compaction and reduce crop yields. The best time of year for a deeper tillage is during late summer and into fall on dry soil, and only when a compacted zone has been identified.

·      Adjust seeding depth according to soil conditions. Corn should be planted between 1.5 and 2 inches deep, which provides protection against frost and allows for adequate root development. Seed depth should be adjusted for weather and soil conditions.

·      Adjust seeding rates by field. For example, high-yield potential sites with high soil-fertility levels and water-holding capacity can benefit from higher seeding rates, while lower seeding rates may work better with droughty soils or in late-planted crops. Given this may be a year where people are looking at their input costs more closely, push seeding rates only where appropriate.

·      Plant a mix of early-, mid- and full-season hybrids between fields, which reduces damage from diseases and environmental stress at different growth stages. Using this method also spreads out harvest time and workload.

·      Plant full-season hybrids first, followed alternately with early-season and mid-season hybrids, which allows late-season hybrids to get the most benefit from maximum heat unit accumulation, Thomison said.