The need to know on planting early crops

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Missouri weather is one of those things that is seldom reliable. If you don't like it, wait 15 or 20 minutes and it's bound to change. Take the Great Blue Norther of 1911 for example. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, at 3:45 p.m., Nov. 11, 1911, Springfield, had a temperature reading of 80 degrees, and by 4 p.m. it was 40 degrees.

While not as drastic, this year's early spring is a decent example, as most farmers were able to plant their crops much earlier than they have in years past. So how can you tell when early is too early?

Making sure to weigh the pros and cons of when to plant is the first and most important step. This spring, most farmers were able to get their crops planted exceptionally early. Planting crops early is like gambling. You have the potential of a much higher yield, having an earlier harvest time, which means that you are working in daylight hours more, and it offers corn the chance to dry faster, as well. The risk ias crops are also susceptible to inclement winter weather, flooding of the crop from spring rains, soil temperatures that aren't consistent which can lead to uneven crops, and seedling disease.

"With planting early, you put yourself at risk with seedling diseases," Monsanto Field Production Agent Brett Hinklin stated. "Pushing your planting further out reduces your risk of early seedling diseases. My advice would be to speak with an agronomist and give your plans on whether your goals are yield or quality or being the first in the field, and they can help you come up with a plan that is best for your needs and your farm."

As most farmers are now insuring their crops, checking with your insurance company's guidelines on planting dates is also a sound decision. If you plant too early or late, your insurance company may not cover your crop in the unlikely event that you have a crop disaster.

One of the last things to consider, is the seed being planted itself. Making sure that you know the maturity date of the seed you use will help you maximize your yield.

The safe and conservative method to planting, is to plant early, mid-season and late to insure no matter what the weather has in store, you are producing an acceptable yield. Regardless of your method though, make sure that you have researched all the above. Make sure you are aware of the pros and cons of all planting options, and proper planning will ensure that you won't have to wade through insurance paperwork to recoup money spent on a crop that didn't pan out.