Friday, May 5, 2017

How Quickly Can Farmers Plant Corn in Wisconsin?

Today, corn planters will begin to roll again in many areas of Wisconsin. We have some good weather coming up and quite a few acres will be planted. I was curious about how quickly can Wisconsin farmers plant corn?

We are just finishing Week #17 in the USDA-NASS reporting system. I pulled 31 years of data to analyze and use to answer the question. We typically have about 50% of our corn acres planted by May 15 (see Figure 1). One of the earliest planting seasons was 2010. In the last 30 years 2016, 2010, 2006, 2005, 2000, and 1999 were earlier than normal planting seasons, while 2014, 2013, and 1996 were later than normal planting seasons.

Figure 1. Wisconsin corn planting progress from 1987 to 2017. The bold blue line is the 30-year normal. Other lines are years that were earlier- or later-than normal using + one standard deviation. Click figure to enlarge.

There have been four times when over 1.5 million acres of corn were planted in a week in Wisconsin. The record week jump in planting progress occurred  during Week #18 of 2000 when 1.54 million acres (44% of 3.50 million acres) were planted. During 2015, 1.52 million acres (37% of 4.10 million acres) were planted during Week #18. During 2007, 1.54 million acres (38% of 4.05 million acres) were planted during Week #19. During 1999, 1.51 million acres (42% of 3.60 million acres) were planted during Week #18.

In the U.S., Iowa planted the most acres in a week during 2011 when 8.60 million acres (61% of 14.10 million acres) were planted during Week #18. Minnesota during Week #17 of 2000 and Ohio during Week #18 of 2003 planted the greatest proportion of acres at 65% (MN= 4.68 of 7.20 million acres and OH= 2.14 of 3.30 million acres).

Safety First and Pay Attention to Detail

Please remember SAFETY FIRST! during the planting season. Patience is key. Make sure fields are fit, equipment is maintained and that you are well rested. Remember to pay attention to detail. The planting process sets up your whole season. The "sins of the past WILL come back to haunt you" if you are sloppy or careless during this important time.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Corn Planting Date Concerns for 2017

The recent cool, wet weather has some farmers concerned about corn planting. We are currently in the optimum range for the corn planting date response. Soon we will be on the downhill side of this response where grain yield decreases AND grain moisture increases. However, there can be quite a bit of variability associated with this response.

Figure 1 shows the corn planting date response at Arlington during the 2010s. During this time, the average planting date that produces maximum corn grain yield is May 4 (the range has been May 1-7). Farmers can still be within 95% of the maximum yield between April 18 and May 20. The narrowest planting date "window" where you could still achieve 95% of the maximum yield was during 2014 between April 25 and May 19 (24 days). The widest window was during 2011 between April 11 and May 21 (40 days).

Figure 1. Grain yield response to planting date for full-season corn hybrids at Arlington from 2010 to 2016.


We planted our first planting date at Arlington on April 17. We planted the hybrid grain and silage trials at Montfort on April 24, Janesville on April 25 and Hancock on April 28. Some university agronomists have written about the potential for imbibitional chilling (see IA and NE) during this growing season. At Janesville and Hancock corn was planted just prior to and during the recent cool, wet weather conditions. We will see how well these trials emerge. They will also be a good test for measuring seed quality differences among hybrids and companies.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Evaluation of Ascend®: Hormones that stimulate corn root growth - Experiment 2

During good times and bad, but especially years with strong grain prices, numerous products appear on the market that seem too good to be true. Often these products come with wild claims. Little information is available for growers to make an informed decision, so it often becomes a case of “buyer beware.”

Ascend® is touted by Winfield Solutions, LLC, as a "... tool to increase plant efficiency" and "... can stimulate higher yields through a larger root mass ..." Ascend® contains the plant growth regulators cytokinin (0.09%), gibberellic acid (0.03%) and indole butyric acid (0.045%). It can be applied at rates of 4.5 to 6 oz/A in-furrow at planting, 2x2 inches below the seed at planting, at 6.4 to 10 oz/A at the 3 to 10 leaf stage, and/or at 6.4 oz/A at the R1-R3 leaf stage. We tested the plant growth regulator Ascend® at eleven locations in Wisconsin by applying it to an adapted hybrid and comparing it to the same hybrid left untreated during 2012 (4 reps) and 2016 (3 reps).

The 2012 results have been posted earlier (click here). If there was any growing season when a corn root growth enhancer should work it was during the drought of 2012. During 2012, locations that exhibited significant drought stress included Chippewa Falls, Lancaster, Janesville, Arlington and Fond du Lac. Hancock was an irrigated site. At seven of eleven locations there was no statistical difference when using Ascend®. At three of eleven locations, the untreated plots yielded more than plots treated with Ascend®. At one of eleven locations, Ascend® treated plots yielded more than untreated plots. At none of the sites that had significant drought stress during the growing season did Ascend® stimulate higher yields. Across all locations there was no statistical difference between corn treated with Ascend® (196 bu/A) and untreated corn (200 bu/A).

During 2016, we expanded the number of Ascend® treatments to in-furrow and foliar treatments. All were applied within the labelled rates and timings. The 2016 growing season was an ideal season throughout the state. Little stress was observed. We measured no significant yield response using Ascend® plant growth regulator (Table 1). At only one location, Hancock, was there a statistical difference using Ascend® when the control and the Ascend® foliar treatment were higher yielding than the Ascend® in-furrow and Ascend® in-furrow + foliar treatment. Across all locations there was no statistical difference between corn treated with Ascend® (228-230 bu/A) and untreated corn (230 bu/A). No statistical differences were observed for other agronomic measurements (Table 2).

Table 1. Corn grain yield (bu/A) response of Ascend® plant growth regulator treatments compared to an untreated check during 2016.

Table 2. Agronomic response of Ascend® plant growth regulator treatments compared to an untreated check during 2016. Values are means across 11 locations.


Ascend® is a "buyer beware" product. Across all locations, the yield range due to treatment response is 2 bu/A, with the untreated check as responsive as the best Ascend® treatment.The evidence from 11 locations across two years seems to confirm the conclusion to be "wary" of this product. However, I always encourage people who may want to try it on their farm to do so by buying a small amount and testing it across a few acres. You may find a response on your farm. If you do, you can always buy more next year.