Don't Switch Corn Hybrid Maturities Yet

Don't Switch Corn Hybrid Maturities Yet

Even with delayed planting, full-season hybrids may still be your best option, agronomists say.

The latest USDA/NASS crop and weather report issued on Monday, May 12 confirmed what many people already knew… a tremendous number of acres were planted last week in Iowa. The report says 70% of Iowa's corn and 20% of Iowa's soybean crop are planted (see accompanying graph). Last week alone 47% of the corn and 19% of the state's soybean acres were planted in 4.9 days of suitable field conditions.

SHORTER SEASON CORN?: About 70% of Iowa's 2014 corn crop is planted, says USDA's survey issued May 12. With 30% to go and farmers waiting for ground to dry out so they can get back in the field, some are talking about switching to a shorter maturing hybrid.

"My calculations indicate the planting pace for both crops was 1.72 million acres per suitable day. That's an incredible planting pace," says Mark Licht, an Iowa State University Extension agronomist. "Having said that, it should be noted that corn and soybean planting progress is still slightly behind normal for this time of year in Iowa."

Rains swept the state the past couple of days. Once again, rainfall has halted planting intentions for most of the state with the exception of parts of western and northwestern Iowa. "While the forecast for the rest of this week has low chances of rainfall, there are increased chances for rainfall next week again," notes Licht. "A few good days of drying weather will allow for planting progress to make strides."

Corn and soybean planting progress for Iowa in 2014. USDA Crop Week 15 is the week ending April 13, 2014 and USDA Crop Week 19 is the week ending May 11, 2014. Data are from USDA NASS Quick Stats.

Should you switch to earlier maturing corn hybrids?
Looking out across wet fields, it's tempting to consider switching to shorter season corn hybrids to ensure timely crop maturity in the fall. But agronomists, both university agronomists and seed company agronomists, caution against doing that too soon.

DuPont Pioneer research, in 18 years of testing, has identified approximate optimum dates for switching to earlier hybrids -- the timeframe may be later than most growers thought. The research shows that switching to an early maturity hybrid too soon will probably not benefit yield performance and may result in reduced profitability.

Extensive local research conducted by DuPont Pioneer pinpoints the optimum date to switch hybrids in each corn growing region. To help guide these decisions, Pioneer researchers conducted planting date studies for more than 18 years, from 1987 through 2004. Results indicate that growers should plant full-season hybrids up until a key date in each region. See the optimum date to change maturities for each of five U.S. corn growing regions at

TAGS: USDA Extension
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