Corn planters will soon be rolling throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest Corn Belt. The annual struggle between field conditions being “just right” and not too wet versus delaying planting to another day will start to weigh on farmer’s minds. In addition, planting delays in the northern tier of U.S. states have greater impact on yield due to a shorter growing season and the added dimension (“double-whammy”) of drying costs at harvest that can occur during cool, wet growing seasons.
Figure 1 shows the impact of planting date on relative grain yield at Arlington. If all corn could be planted on one date, ideally it would be on May 1 or slightly earlier to decrease drying costs. Planting delays to June 1 will lower yields about 30%. However, in some growing seasons, 100% of the maximum grain yield can be achieved planting into late May. Grain yield decreases 0.5 bu/A per day on May 15 and accelerates to 2.5 bu/A per day on June 1.