6 Things To Check Before You Switch Corn Maturity

If wet weather delays planting again, are you prepared to make a switch to shorter-season hybrids? ( Margy Eckelkamp )

While the 2019 planting season is in the rearview mirror, many farmers still feel its impact as they prepare for 2020. No one wants to face another tough season like 2019, but the truth is it’s good to be prepared for weather challenges before planting gets underway—just in case.

One of the biggest challenges last year was deciding when to switch to planting shorter-season corn hybrids and then locating them for purchase. You don’t need to preemptively order shorter season corn hybrids; however, now is a good time to put together a planting order for each field based on the maturity best suited to it.

Here are six tips to help you be prepared for any potential late planting, according to Doug Becher, commercial agronomist at Corteva - Mycogen Seeds, University of Wisconsin Extension and Penn State Extension:

  1. Watch the calendar: “In most areas, switching to a shorter than adapted hybrid maturity should not be considered until at least the last week of May, according to Penn State Extension. Don’t jump the gun too early,” he says.
  2. Know how to correct for date: After May 25 and through the end of May, try to back down your fullest season hybrids five to seven days. From June 1 to June 10, back down about 10 days. But, talk to your seed advisor for the best advice for your geography, Becher says. “That’s a general rule.”
  3. Consider harvest drying capacity: If you have on-farm dryers you might have more ability to keep the higher-yielding, full-season hybrids. Know what your farm can handle and make adjustments throughout planting to maximize efficiency.
  4. Understand agronomics: “Make sure you have the right mix for pest problems,” Becher says. “Insect pests, leaf-type diseases, pay attention to those and overall agronomics, make sure you get the right agronomics.” Talk with seed suppliers if you’re not familiar with the characteristics of hybrids in a shorter-season maturity range to ensure your key pests will be manageable.
  5. Account for seed availability: If a lot of people in your area are making the switch to shorter-season hybrids seed might not be as available in the hybrid fitted to your field, according to University of Wisconsin. Consider if the risk of more drying or delayed harvest from sticking with longer season hybrids is worth it
  6. Think about the end use: When it’s harvested for grain, a shorter-season maturity makes sense because of dry down; however, with silage or other high-moisture corn you might benefit from keeping a longer season hybrid, according to University of Wisconsin.

“As we get into the later portion of the [planting] decision making process, with all of the impacts insurance or other payment programs can have on it, I encourage growers to reach out to insurance agents to make sure you know if you should be planting at all,” Becher says. “Keep in tune with what’s going on with the ever-changing programs and know how that impacts your final planting decisions.”

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