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Another spring of late planting? Don't worry yet, specialists say

Agriculture.com Staff 04/15/2009 @ 12:45pm

Depending on your location, last spring may not be just a past memory. The cool, damp conditions that characterized much of the Corn Belt and Delta planting season might be unfolding in front of you again.

But, don't wring your hands too hard just yet, specialists and farmers say. The calendar may be flying by without a wheel turning in the field, but one lesson from 2008, say Iowa State University Extension agronomists Roger Elmore and Lori Abendroth, is that even if you're a little past your optimal planting date, your yields won't always be cut short.

"Research data from 2008, in general, is more variable due to weather conditions, yet significant lessons were learned from a year that broke several paradigms," say Elmore and Abendroth in a recent report. "This includes our long-term, multi-location planting date research."

Of course, there are the basic pre-requisites: Soils need to be around 50 degrees and dry enough to pull the planter through the field without excessive compaction or other soil damage. Other than that, data from the '08 growing season show that planting date doesn't necessarily have a generally negative impact on yields.

"Our 2008 planting date data ran a rich gamut of responses: One location with no yield response; three locations had a yield loss only with plantings after late May; and the last location had the highest yield in a June planting," the agronomists report. "Only one location responded in a way typical of the long-term averages."

Depending on your location, last spring may not be just a past memory. The cool, damp conditions that characterized much of the Corn Belt and Delta planting season might be unfolding in front of you again.

Despite the wide range of outcomes seemingly unrelated to planting date, one clear correlation can be made from the '08 data, say Abendroth and Elmore. No matter when it's is planted (within reason), soil conditions will ultimately dictate how the crop responds.

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