Variability of Planting Date on Corn Grain Yield, Moisture and Grower Return

April 9, 1998  5(5):27-28

Joe Lauer, Corn Agronomist

This year producers might consider planting corn earlier than normal. Producers, who plant corn early, are concerned about frost, poor emergence, and early plant growth. Producers, who plant later, wonder what maturities to plant, and how late planting affects final grain yield and moisture (more about this in the next WCM issue). Planting full-season hybrids early is highly recommended because the entire growing season can be used. Physiological maturity can be reached before growth stops because of frost, and some field drying of corn can occur allowing greater profit margin. These considerations are important for all corn producers, but are even more important for producers on the northern fringes of the Corn Belt where the growing season often is limiting.

Table 1 shows the effect of planting date on various corn hybrids between 1991 and 1997 at Arlington, WI. In some years, yield was affected by earlier planting dates. However, grower return was typically best early in the planting season. Optimum planting dates range from May 1 to May 7 in southern and northern Wisconsin, respectively.

There is some yield risk with early planting dates, but this is often made up by lower drying costs. If corn is planted prior to 20 and 30 April in southern and northern Wisconsin, respectively, the decision to begin planting should be based on soil temperature and field conditions. After 20 and 30 April, corn planting should proceed as rapidly as possible and be completed by 12 May for southern Wisconsin and 15 May for northern Wisconsin. Otherwise, corn producers will suffer significant yield penalties with further delays in planting.

Table 1. Corn response to planting date between 1991 and 1997 at Arlington, WI.
Year Planting date Grain yield Grain moisture GrowerReturn
    Bu/A % $/A
         
1997 April 18 198 24 497
  May 05 165 27 406
  May 13 190 26 471
  May 20 172 28 421
  June 02 164 31 392
  June 10 134 27 331
  June 19 107 34 249
  July 01 24 55 67
         
1996 April 26 178 25 445
  May 01 169 25 420
  May 05 161 26 397
  May 10 173 27 426
  May 20 141 26 350
  June 13 141 30 338
         
1995 April 20 156 17 413
  May 01 153 17 405
  May 15 152 18 401
  May 19 150 19 393
  May 20 145 20 378
  June 09 105 23 267
         
1994 April 20 169 19 442
  May 03 167 20 433
  May 10 165 22 423
  May 20 170 24 427
  June 01 137 33 323
  June 10 106 29 256
  June 22 50 45 105
         
1993 April 23 152 30 367
  April 30 149 31 355
  May 10 131 36 301
  May 19 123 29 300
  June 01 102 35 239
  June 10 97 23 245
  June 22 45 39 101
         
1992 April 30 180 29 434
  May 07 182 31 431
  May 14 161 33 375
  May 21 129 40 284
  May 28 121 44 258
  June 04 73 49 149
  June 10 64 42 139
  June 23 29 54 58
         
1991 April 20 168 30 403
  May 01 172 29 416
  May 09 180 32 426
  May 20 158 25 396
  June 01 145 31 346
  June 10 106 29 255
  June 18 90 32 211
Grower return to management = (Grain yield x Grain price) minus treatment costs Assumptions included:
Grain price = $2.75 per bushel
Drying cost = $0.02 per moisture point above 15.5%
Hauling cost = $0.04 per bushel
Handling cost = $0.02 per bushel

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