Early Planting

Mar 18, 2024

Spring appears to be upon us, and the weather is starting to feel like the middle of April. We have had a good spring to get early field work done and that brings a lot of questions about planting earlier than normal. I do believe anytime we can extend the growing season we should look to do so, but we must make sure to follow good agronomics. Planting too early when conditions could turn cold could leave a lot of yield on the table this year.

As a reminder we should plant corn when soil temperatures are 50 degrees and rising. Seed corn sitting in cooler than 50-degree temperatures can affect germination and lead to poor stands early in the season. Corn does not compensate near as well as soybeans so a 10-20% reduction in stand can lead to large yield hits. The trend recently has been focusing on planting soybeans earlier and waiting for perfect corn conditions to plant. SFG recommendation is to plant corn during the second week of April if fields are fit and the weather forecast looks favorable. If we look back at the last couple of years with high yield corn, 2021 and 2023 stand out. Both years corn was able to be planted in the second week of April.

Soybeans are generally more forgiving than corn and if any ultra early planting was to be done, I would try soybeans. More and more industry tests are trying early planted beans to extend the growing season. There have been some tests with soybeans planted in March that show higher than average yields. The biggest risk is frost and poor weather so generally ultra early planted soybeans are either really good, or really bad from what I have seen. If conditions are fit in the next couple of weeks, I could see trying some soybean planting just to test how it would work. There is still time for some cooler weather as it looks like a couple of 20-degree nights this week but if April looks as warm as March it will be hard not to try earlier than usual planting. As always give your SFG agronomist a call to discuss your 2024 planting needs.