Originally published in Purdue Pest Management & Crop Production Newsletter (10 May 1996)

When the Weather Breaks.....

R.L. (Bob) Nielsen , Agronomy Department , Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1150

When the weather breaks and Indiana corn growers take to the fields again to begin planting corn, quality time will be of the essence. From mid-May on, the yield penalties for further planting delays are serious enough that corn planting should be the highest priority field operation. What steps or operations can growers eliminate or postpone to make the most efficient use of available field working days?

  1. Use these rainy days to doublecheck the condition of the planter and other equipment used during planting to help avoid downtime in the field. Make sure everything is well-lubricated and that the planter's drive tires are properly inflated.
  2. If you use an air or vacuum planter, also use these rainy days to calculate and record the number of seeds per lb. for each variety you will be planting (e.g., 80000 kernels divided by 41.5 lb. bag = 1928 seeds per lb.). Make sure you know ahead of time what planter adjustments (air/vacuum pressure, seed discs, seed drums) will be required to uniformly meter the kernels of each variety. Doing this homework now will not only save you time in the field, but ensure that the resulting plant-to-plant spacing will be uniform.
  3. If sidedress nitrogen fertilizer application is feasible for your operation, don't waste valuable time applying pre-plant nitrogen fertilizer. Apply 20 to 40 lbs. of nitrogen starter fertilizer in a band 2 inches over and 2 inches below the seed, and apply the rest later with a sidedress application.
  4. Similarly, consider eliminating or postponing pre-plant applications of phosphorus and/or potassium fertilizer. Maintenance or replacement amounts can be applied as starter fertilizer through the planter.
  5. If you are not already no-tilling, consider eliminating one or more tillage operations. This includes reworking a stale' seedbed that had been worked previously. Most modern corn planters are capable of planting under reduced tillage operations. Eliminating one or more tillage operations may also reduce the risk of creating soil compaction in fields that are slow to dry.
  6. Instead of pre-plant herbicide applications, consider applying appropriate herbicides pre-emergence or post-emergence instead.

Return to the the Chat 'n Chew Cafe.

The Corn Growers Guidebook , a WWW resource for corn management systems in Indiana and the eastern CornBelt.

Purdue University Agronomy Extension WWW Home Page.

Purdue Agronomy On-Line! , Purdue's Agronomy Department WWW Home Page.

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