Filling in the blanks in a poor corn stand is not a good idea
Heavy rains not only delayed corn planting in Michigan this May, but for the corn that did get planted, we are seeing emergence problems in some fields.
Corn planting in much of Michigan was delayed by the cool, wet spring in 2014. According to the USDA Crop Progress Report for May 2014, only 18 percent of the corn crop was in on May 18; by May 25, approximately 53 percent was planted. This is still considerably behind the five-year average of 82 percent planted by the fourth week of May.
Corn planted in early May under “less than ideal conditions” or pounded by rain is just coming up. There are undoubtedly some questionable stands, but what can be done at this late date?
- Visit the field and evaluate the stand. It requires some time, but will give you a good idea of dollar return on the crop that is out there and growing. It may be better to keep what you have than to start over.
- Don’t be tempted to plant into an existing stand to “fill in the gaps.” If the existing corn is at the two-leaf collar state or larger, competition from the original plants can negate any benefit from re-planting.
- It is most-likely too late to replant, but if you are considering this, use the U2U Decision Support Tool for Corn Growing Degree Days to select the hybrid and evaluate the probability of reaching maturity this fall. An overview of how to use the tool is available at Michigan State University Extension.
- If the decision is made to tear up the corn and plant the field to something else, be sure to take into account the herbicides that were used. Table 12 – Herbicide Crop Rotation Restrictions in the 2014 Weed Control Guide for Field Crops is an excellent resource. Always consult the label for details on specific herbicides used.
- Soybeans may provide a producer with a viable option if herbicide restrictions are not a concern. Late-planted soybean recommendations are available at MSU Extension.
- Finally, it is important to consider your crop insurance options. “Late Planting Decisions with Crop Insurance: Decision Guidelines for Michigan Producers in Spring 2014” provides a comprehensive review of crop insurance options. This guide will soon be available at the Farm Information Resource Management website.
Taking time to carefully evaluate the field and make plans can save time and money in the long run. Resources are available through MSU Extension to help producers make those decisions. To contact a local MSU Extension educator, go to the MSU Extension Find an Expert webpage.