June Corn Planting Strategies

June 6, 1996 3(12):76-77
Corrected June 13, 1996 3(13):84

Joe Lauer, Corn Agronomist

Deciding when to quit planting corn is not an easy decision. In 1995 at Arlington, WI, four corn hybrids were planted on different dates and yield, moisture and grower return was measured (Table 1). The production year of 1995 had a normal fall first frost date and high fall temperatures which hastened fall dry-down, i.e. drying costs were somewhat lower than typically found in a >normal= year. Grower return is the amount of money left over after subtracting treatment costs. For example, the 100 d hybrid planted on May 1 yielded 172 bushels per acre at 16.6 % moisture: Grower return = (2.75 - (0.04 + 0.017 + 0.015 x (16.6 - 15.5)) x 172 = $460 per acre.

Greatest grower return was observed when corn was planted on April 20 and May 1 with the full-season 110 d hybrid. In this example, the 100 d hybrid had greatest grower return on May 15 and on all subsequent planting dates. Performance of the 110 d hybrid was affected by later planting dates as well as high grain moisture. When the 110 d hybrid was planted on June 9, no grain yield was produced by this hybrid.

In south and south central Wisconsin, corn production costs range from $275 to $325 per acre. All corn hybrids planted in April and May returned enough to compensate for production costs at a corn price of $2.75 per bushel. In this year, the 100 d hybrid had high enough yields when planted in June to break-even with production costs. The short- and ultra-short-season corn hybrids had yields too low to break-even with production costs.

A number of factors should be considered when deciding whether or not corn should be planted in June.

  • Corn production costs (Drying costs): Shorter-season hybrids reduce the risk of immature and wet grain in the fall. But, ultra-short- and short-season corn hybrids must have adequate yield potential to recover production costs.
  • Corn price: Higher corn prices make planting later into June with shorter-season hybrids more attractive.
  • Other uses: Corn used for other purposes such as high moisture grain or corn silage can be planted later into June than corn harvested for grain. High moisture grain and silage allow the use of longer season hybrids with greater yield potential.
  • Other cropping alternatives: Compare the relative yield potential of an alternative crop for a given date with that of late planted corn. For example, corn yield potential declines at a faster rate than the yield potential of soybeans. Other crops to consider include sunflowers, buckwheat, and sorghum-sudan grass.
  • Environment: First fall frost date and fall drying conditions influence your decision. Years that are longer and warmer than average favor full-season hybrids while shorter cooler than average years favor shorter-season hybrids.
General guidelines for June corn planting in south and south central Wisconsin are:
  1. Corn for grain can be planted until about June 1-10;
  2. Corn grown for high moisture corn and high quality silage uses can be planted until about June 10-20;
  3. After June 20, consider switching to a different crop.

Less flexibility for corn planting dates in June is observed in northern Wisconsin.

Table 1. Performance of corn hybrids differing in maturity and grown during 1995 at Arlington, WI.


Planting date

80 d hybrid
ultra-short-season

90 d hybrid
short-season

100 d hybrid
mid-season

110 d hybrid
full-season

Grain yield (bushels per acre)

April 20

107

160

173

184

May 1

115

147

172

177

May 15

115

152

170

170

May 30

115

153

166

148

June 9

92

98

126

0

Grain moisture (%)

April 20

14.3

16.4

16.0

21.9

May 1

14.1

17.0

16.6

20.8

May 15

14.7

16.5

17.4

22.2

May 30

14.6

17.2

18.5

28.5

June 9

15.4

23.0

29.9

---

Grower return (dollars per acre)

April 20

288

429

465

478

May 1

310

393

460

463

May 15

310

407

453

441

May 30

310

408

440

312

June 9

248

253

312

0

Grower return = (Corn price - Treatment costs) x grain yield
Corn price = $2.75 per bushel;
Treatment costs = Hauling + Handling + Drying
= $0.04 per bushel + $0.017 per bushel + ($0.015 per % bushel x (grain moisture % - 15.5 %)) when grain moisture > 15.5 %


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