Farmers making good progress in fields

Farm Forum

Even though the cold, late spring has tightened the planting window, area farmers are sticking with the corn seed varieties they normally plant.

Mark Rosenberg, agronomy weeds specialist at the SDSU Aberdeen Regional Extension Office, said he hasn’t heard of anyone switching seed varieties that could mature in a shorter growing season.

“We’re still within a decent time frame that we can pretty much go with the intended plan,” Rosenberg said.

In spite of an unusual winter, we’re still not far off from the usual time that area farmers get their corn in the ground.

This year, if you get your planting done in the next 10 days, you’ll be fine, said Gary Erickson, who works at Wheat Growers.

Traditionally, farmers agree that the best time to plant corn is early to mid-May.

Jon Locken believes that most years, May 2 would be a good time to be in the heart of corn planting.

“I’ve always figured if you had to plant your whole crop of corn on one day, it should be the second of May,” said Locken, who farms south of Bath.

Locken once talked to a seed corn salesman who held a similar view. He chose May 1.

Harry Pharis, who farms near Putney, likes to get started on his corn by May 10 or 12.

South Dakota State University Extension agent Mark Rosenberg said most corn planting is done from late April through most of May. Most producers try to get done by mid-May. Memorial Day is the latest that most farmers like to go.

As the farming industry has changed, so has conventional wisdom.

For years, farmers hoped that corn would be knee-high by the fourth of July. That belief almost seems to have gone by the wayside, Rosenberg said. The way things are now, corn almost has to be hip high or even taller by Independence Day, he said.

Genetics and more aggressive planting strategies have changed the farming calendar somewhat, Rosenberg said. Farmers also pay a lot of attention to crop insurance deadlines, said Doug Farrand of the Natural Resources Conservation Service office in Brown County.

Still, most farmers like to have soybeans in by the end of May, or slightly earlier. It’s OK to extend that into June, but soybeans have a better yield potential when planted in May, Rosenberg said.

Though wheat isn’t as prominent as it once was in this area, wheat growers like to have that crop in by the end of April.

Pharis said he built his farm with malting barley.

“And that was always my priority in the spring,” said Pharis, who farms with his son, Kevin.

After the malting barley was planted, he turned to wheat and then corn.

Pharis believes that seeding pays off best in dry ground.

He has a colorful way of expressing that belief.

“Seed it in the dust, and your bins will bust. Seed it in the mud, you’re an Elmer Fudd,” he said.