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Rain delays, weed pressures continue to strain spring planting

Agriculture.com Staff 05/21/2010 @ 1:02pm

Earlier this spring, the dust was flying. A lot of corn acres were planted, leaving many farmers to feel optimistic about a possible early completion to planting and, later on, an early harvest.

Some got their corn and soybeans planted. Then, the rain started falling and a lot of farmers were stalled after the quick start. So, many of those who got started early are still waiting to wrap up spring planting. Then, there are those who will need to replant many of those early-planted acres because of the cool, wet conditions.

Long story short: It hasn't been the quick, easy planting season it looked like it would be a month ago. And, the progress that has been made has varied widely in the last few weeks.

"My area of southwest lower Michigan and extreme northern Indiana is mostly done with planting corn and beans. If one drives about a half hour south of here, it's very wet. Some larger farmers I spoke with in northwest Ohio have 0% corn planting done as of today," Agriculture.com Marketing Talk member BKsandFarmer said Thursday. "The ones that have gotten some planting done may end up replanting some of that acrerage. Not all of the corn belt has seen record pace, if the rain misses this region planting will be in full swing again."

"I haven't started yet due to wet conditions since the 23rd of April," adds Marketing Talk member SD455 of his area of northeastern Indiana. "Most of the 2,000+ acre farmers have about 10% planted and plan on replanting most of it."

This creates challenges on many fronts for some farmers moving forward: first, get the crop planted. Then, if acres already in the ground have been frozen or flooded out, get them replanted. For the latter job, even if your weather hasn't seemed ideal and your corn acres aren't looking the greatest right now, don't assume that means you're robbing yourself from yield potential.

"We know that clear and visible negatives such as poor stands, uncorrected nutrient deficiency, or heavy weed competition will usually not result in high yields, but the effects of clear and visible positives at this point in the season are much less certain...Growth is usually fairly slow during early vegetative stages, and we tend to project weather that we don't like as also being poor for corn," says University of Illinois Extension agronomist Emerson Nafziger. "With luck, the crop will look better and be growing rapidly by early June in most fields. If the weather into June is good, then we'll forget the slow growth we’re seeing now and start to look forward to having a good crop canopy in place and a good start to pollination by early July."

A third source for potential grief at this point is weed control. Just because your corn and beans may not be in the ground -- or will be replanted -- doesn't mean the weeds are taking similar pause. That both compounds the challenge of getting herbicide applied on fields in varying stages of development.

"Because of the recent rains, growers may be facing a wide range of herbicide application challenges. Some probably put herbicides on early with the intention to plant and didn't get the corn in the ground fast enough. That herbicide is now running out and won't give them the four to six weeks of control needed after planting," says Ohio State University Extension weed specialist Mark Loux. "Throw down some additional residual herbicide at the time of planting."

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