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Make adjustments to offset corn planting delays.

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When corn planting is delayed due to inclement weather and poor field conditions, you can still take advantage of the compressed growing season and achieve reasonable yield results by adjusting your hybrid selection and managing cropping activities with later planting dates.

Factors to Consider

  • Date
  • Maturity options
  • Weather and soil conditions
  • Previous field activities
  • Planting schedule
Data from Emerson Nafziger, University of Illinois. Used by permission from the Illinois Agronomy Handbook, 24th Edition (2009), Publication C1394, University of Illinois Extension.

Action Plan

  1. Plant first. Prioritize cropping activities and realize that planting corn in a timely manner is most important. Nitrogen can be sidedressed up to the eight-leaf stage. Postemergence herbicides can be substituted for preplant and/or preemergence herbicides and still provide effective weed control.
  2. Consider the current date. Corn planted after May 1 requires fewer growing degree-days (GDD) to reach blacklayer, or physiological maturity. When planting is delayed after May 1, the necessary GDD requirements are typically reduced by 6.8 GDD per day for every day of delayed planting. This adaptability of corn offers full-season hybrids a larger planting window with the ability to still reach physiological maturity (about 32% moisture) before frost typically occurs. For most full-season hybrids in the central Corn Belt, planting can be delayed until at least June 1.
  3. Prioritize your planting schedule. Plant the fullest-season, latest-flowering hybrids first as they will take the longest to reach blacklayer and generally have the potential for the greatest yield response to early planting. The next priority is early flowering, full-season hybrids. Next plant later-flowering, short-season hybrids. Last-planted hybrids should be those considered early flowering and short-season.
  4. Do not work wet soils. Soil structure determines the ability of soil to hold and conduct water, nutrients and air necessary for plant root activity. Heavily compacted soils contain few large pores and have a reduced rate of water infiltration and drainage. Tilling fields while wet can produce cloddy soil conditions, resulting in poor seed-to-soil contact and a reduction in stand establishment. It also can cause corn plants to leaf out underground. This can be a major issue in cool, wet years and will reduce yields far more than a short planting delay.
  5. Plant for a uniform stand. Maintain recommended planting speed for your target plant spacing. Increased planting speeds can result in poor stands and greater planting problems. If conditions indicate a prolonged cool, wet period after planting, increase planting populations 5 percent to 10 percent to compensate for potential emergence problems and seedling diseases. Additional planter attachments such as “spiked” closing wheels may be beneficial to minimize any effect from sidewall compaction in minimum or no-till planting environments.


To manage delayed planting scenarios, start by prioritizing your planting schedule and knowing the maturity recommendations specific to your area. For more information, contact your local Mycogen Seeds commercial agronomist or trusted agronomic adviser.


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