Early Planting: Friend or Foe?


Spring has arrived in South Dakota as the grass is turning green and the trees are budding. After experiencing an extremely mild winter across the plains, much of the farmland is warm and dry which means farmers are itching to plant corn.

There are a number of things to consider when planting early including weather variables, crop insurance and seed corn supply.

While there are advantages to early planting, there are also a number of risks involved.

“Farmers need to recognize the fact that the earlier they plant, the more likely they are of facing a freeze or colder temperatures,” said Mark Rosenberg, Agronomy Weed Field Specialist at SDSU Extension in Aberdeen, SD. “Farmers also need to consider the lack of quality seed corn supplies, especially if our growers are faced with a wide-spread freeze.”

“The crop insurance date for corn in South Dakota is April 10th,” said Rebecca Wellenstein of Farm Credit Services of America. “Those who choose to plant before then will not be eligible for replant payments.”

“I would recommend waiting until famers have consistent soil temperatures,” added Rosenberg. “Variable soil temperatures can result in uneven emergence or plant retardation.”

“Advantages of early planting include earlier emergence giving farmers the opportunities for a better yield giving the crop a better chance to fully mature before a fall freeze.”

According to long term SDSU research the best yields occur when corn is planted around April 15th.  This may seem early but it is also known that planting corn after May 10th may result in lower yields. With the short growing season in South Dakota early planting is important to obtain maximum yields.

Please visit iGrow.org for more corn production information from South Dakota State Extension.

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