Busting two myths can make corn farmers up to $120 per acre

Meanwhile, busting another myth can make soybean farmers up to $40 per acre.

Looking to make an extra $120 per acre on your corn this year? Or another $40 per acre on your soybeans?  

This can happen when farmers puncture three myths, says Mary Gumz, Pioneer agronomy manager. Gumz and other Pioneer and Granular officials met with members of the agricultural media at this week’s virtual Commodity Classic. 

Here’s a closer look at each myth. 

Myth #1. Always plant corn before soybeans. 

Not necessarily, says Gumz. 

“For decades, there’s been a belief that soybeans should always be planted after corn, but early planted soybeans generally reach canopy closure much sooner,” Gumz says. The increased sunlight interception can lead to more generation of photosynthesis, which can lead to increased yield potential. 

“Our research shows that moving soybean planting earlier results in a longer reproductive period,” she says. This can lead to more yield potential than does a later planting date, she adds. 

Pioneer data shows that farmers can lose between .25 and .40 bushels per day if soybean planting is delayed after mid-to-late April. 

“If there is a 10-day planting delay from April 20 to May 1, that’s $24 to $40 per acre of lost yield potential,” says Gumz. “Make the (cropping order) decision based upon individual field conditions and which hybrid or variety will go on the field.” 

There’s a hitch, though. 

Gumz recommends examining the three- to five-day forecast, and holding off planting if weather forecasters predict a cold rain event. 

“Also, look at the overall fitness of your field,” Gumz says. “Planting (soybeans) early can bring a yield advantage, but planting early into an unfit, muddy seedbed erases any advantage you might have.”

Myth #2. Corn seeding rates shouldn’t vary much. 

Wrong again.

Instead, a farmer’s hybrid choice, seedbed conditions, and yield goal should dictate seeding rates.

“Seeding rates change year to year, product by product, and field to field,” Gumz says. “Having the wrong rate could cost you up to $40 per acre.”

Seeding rates may also be higher than you’d initially expect.

“In general, farmers should plan to drop 5% more seeds than the target population to account for germination or seedling losses,” Gumz says. “In extreme or challenging environments, they should plan to boost target seeding rates by an additional 5%.”

Yield goal can also influence seeding rate differences. “Recent Pioneer plant population research shows that the economic optimum seeding rate increases from approximately 30,000 seeds per acre at the 150-bushel yield level to around 37,000 seeds per acre at the 240-bushel yield level,” Gumz says.

Myth # 3. Shallow-planted corn will emerge faster, driving higher yields.

Wrong again. 

“Shallow-planted corn leads to uneven emergence and higher yield risk, potentially costing farmers over $80 per acre,” says Gumz. “A three-year study from Pioneer showed that on average, there was a 20-bushel disadvantage to corn planted at one 1 vs. 3 inches. The same study also showed that corn planted at that 3-inch depth reached final emergence faster and more uniformly than the 1-inch planting depth.”

2021 Planting Guide 

To aid farmers in busting these myths and to provide other key agronomic information, Pioneer Agronomy and Granular are launching the 2021 Planting Guide that can be accessed free of charge on desktop and mobile. 

It’s a proprietary digital planting guide that combines Pioneer’s agronomic expertise with more than 5 million acres of anonymized Granular and Corteva data and insights, say company officials. 

Guide features include: 

  • State-specific planting date and seeding rate trends 
  • Seeding rate calculator and insights 
  • Downloadable planting checklist 
  • Video tutorials on planting depth 
  • Direct access to in-depth Pioneer Agronomy research of corn and soybean planting depth, planting date, population research and more agronomic topics 
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