Whitley County

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Delayed/Prevented Planting

July 2, 2019
rain flooded field


Some producers with prevent planting acres are considering using corn or soybeans as a cover crop on those acres.  Extension Field Crop and NRCS specialists recently met and approved this practice for 2019. They recognize that corn and soybeans do have some positive characteristics as a cover crop.  Both crops can canopy quickly, reduce soil erosion, and scavenge nutrients. 


In addition, USDA’s Risk Management Agency has determined for 2019, that silage, haylage, and baleage should be treated in the same manner as haying and grazing for this year.  Moving an initial harvest date from Nov. 1 to Sept. 1 has made this option more attractive for many producers.  However, given the late planting date, the following agronomic recommendations should be considered for this unique 2019 forage harvest:




Additional Consideration:


       *Do I have soybean cyst nematode (SCN)?  If so, are planting a variety that will help to

         reduce the population (i.e. what is your source of SCN resistance?) or will the population

         increase.  Other cover crops may aid in reducing the SCN population.

       *Will the corn I plant result in additional disease pressure in future years?   

       *Are there better cover crop species available that will help me break up a corn/soybean

          cycle for at least one year.

*Are there troublesome weed species that I may need to monitor and control?



I recently answered some questions by IN Whitley County correspondent, Lois Tomaszewski, regarding delayed/prevented planting. See her questions and my responses below.


Q) How does this season's rainfall compare with other years?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in their May 28 Indiana Crop Progress and Condition Report that corn is 22% planted in Indiana, compared with 94% last year, and 85% for the recent 5-year average. Soybeans were 11% planted, compared with 85% last year and 63% for the recent 5-year average. My estimation is that Whitley County, along with many regional counties, are well below the state average. It’s the worst I can recall in my lifetime in terms of delaying nearly all field operations to date, except for farmers on sandy soils up north.


Q) What impact does rain have on planting? Why does it matter?

It always matters. When fields are too wet, they don’t support tractors and field equipment. Even when it looks dry on top, a saturated soil down a few inches makes field operations impossible. Entering fields too wet with heavy equipment (if you don’t get stuck) will cause soil compaction, the negative effects of which will linger for years. We’ve also had the converse of this year’s situation – soils so dry that seeds cannot imbibe enough water to germinate. As to planting delays, after about mid-May, corn yield potential declines by about 1-2 bushels per day. What we don’t know is what the actual yield of a delayed-planted crop will be. That will depend on growing conditions and many other factors through the end of the season. We have had years of delayed planting where the final yields surprised us to the good.


Q) What crops are most vulnerable to a planting delay?

Corn is the crop of most concern today. We are approaching the time period we generally regard as the last possible corn planting dates – June 5-10. Check Purdue corn specialist Bob Nielsen’s “Chat ‘n Chew Café” website for articles relating to switching corn hybrids and late planting dates at: https://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/cafe/index.html. If you haven’t already been in contact with seed dealers in relation to switching to earlier-maturing corn, seed availability may be an issue. Soybeans are also of great concern, and although we are certainly delayed at this point, we have a little more wiggle room in terms of time with this crop.


Q) Does a wet spring cause any other problems such as poor crop health?

Insect and disease pressures are always a concern to some extent. Fusarium head blight (scab) of wheat may be a concern this year, depending on weather conditions at flowering time. Also for wheat, Purdue specialist Darcy Telenko cautions growers to be on the lookout for septoria and rust. She said tar spot in corn and white mold in beans may become diseases of concern this year. Seedling diseases may be effecting previously planted corn and soybean (for the few fields that have been planted). When conditions finally favor widespread crop planting, those crops should germinate and grow at a rapid pace, and it’s impossible to predict what diseases may become the ugly ones this year. During corn hybrid selection, growers will often choose hybrids with resistance to gray leaf spot and northern corn leaf blight.


Q) What are some of the ways farmers can recover from a late start?

“Recover” may be a strong word. I’m sure every farmer has equipment ready to go at the first possible opportunity. I would also encourage everyone to not cut corners with regard to safety. Long hours will be required to get crops planted in a short time, and growers may be looking to cut corners and speed everything along at the fastest pace. That tends to be when accidents happen. Also be in contact with your supporting team of ag professionals: crop insurance agents, Farm Service Agency personnel, farm loan officers, seed dealers, agronomists and others. The general public can help by being patient with farmers and equipment on the roads.


In terms of navigating the difficult decisions ahead, USDA recently announced subsidy payments relative to international trade disruptions. Thankfully, the planted acres can be in corn or soybeans. Keep in mind, however, that those payments will be made on planted acres, so if you take the insurance indemnity from prevented planting, you may not receive the USDA subsidy payment. (Check with Farm Service Agency for more details). So, famers are faced with difficult questions, such as: Is it economical to plant? Should I switch from corn to soybeans? Do I take crop insurance payments related to prevented planting, or do I opt for the USDA subsidy payments? Do I need livestock feed? Do I need grain to satisfy forward contracting commitments? What are the costs of keeping weeds in check if I don’t plant?


I discussed factors relating to corn planting earlier. Purdue soybean specialist Shaun Casteel said we are probably okay on full-season soybeans until about mid-June in northern Indiana. As we get into June planting dates for soybeans, planting populations should be incrementally increased to compensate for fewer nodes on the plant (where pods will be produced). A general rule of thumb is increasing soybean seeding rates by 10% or about 15,000 seeds per acre each week of June. Soybean maturity ratings can be maintained as planned through about June 15, then drop 0.5 units through June 30.


Additional information can be found at Purdue’s Center for Commercial Agriculture https://ag.purdue.edu/commercialag/. Watch the recent webinar entitled, “Delayed Corn and Soybean Planting Decisions.”




See also:

Prevented Planting—Turning Lemons into (Organic) Lemonade https://extension.entm.purdue.edu/newsletters/pestandcrop/article/prevented-planting-turning-lemons-into-organic-lemonade/

Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative Prevented Planting / Crop Failure Tools

Late Corn & Soybean Planting Decisions: June 6, 2019 Edition (video from Purdue Center for Commercial Agriculture)

Purdue Extension Videos: Delayed Planting Considerations for Corn and Soybean

Some Points to Ponder as You Struggle With Decisions About Late-Planted Corn, by R.L. (Bob) Nielsen, Agronomy Dept., Purdue Univ.

Schnitkey, G., C. Zulauf, K. Swanson and R. Batts. "Prevented Planting, 2019 Market Facilitation Program Payments, Disaster Assistance, and Price Dynamics." farmdoc daily (9):98, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, May 29, 2019.

Useful to Useable (U2U) Growing Degree Day decision support tool: https://hprcc.unl.edu/gdd.php

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