Avoid This $250 Mistake

2019 Optimal Corn Planting Date: May 20 ( Photo: Darrell Smith )

The difficulties of 2019 served as a blunt reminder every decision made at planting has a price tag.

Researchers at Precision Planting weighed how factors such as field conditions, planting date and soil moisture impacted 2019 yields.

“By far, the biggest thing that cost us was planting in tough conditions,” says Jason Webster, Precision Planting’s lead agronomist.

Those tough conditions would have kept the planter parked in a “normal” year but in the rush of 2019 it was all systems go.

Webster planted corn and soybean plots on different dates and in various conditions. The results from each plot reiterated that planting conditions outweigh planting date in terms of crop productivity (see the charts above).

Planting date alone dropped corn yields around 60 bu. per acre. Multiply that by $4 corn and per-acre returns drop by almost $250.

“You can put all the technology you want on a planter, but if you’re playing in the mud, you’re going to start going backward, and we did that in 2019,” Webster says.

Get Ready for 2020

Last year reminded farmers patience and attention to detail matters at planting.

“Make sure not only the field is ready, but planters and equipment are too,” says Brad Niensteadt, Kinze senior product specialist.

Today’s farm machinery is fast and efficient. In 2019, 42% of farmers in a Farm Journal Pulse poll said they could plant all their crops in under 10 days. Other research shows it would take two weeks to plant all the U.S. corn and soybeans (given the conditions were right).

“Wait that extra day to make sure fields are fit — you get one time to do planting right,” Niensteadt says.