Growers nervous about their unplanted corn should resist switching maturities or switching to soybeans — for now. Major seed corn companies recommend growers wait another week or two before making any changes.
Monsanto recommends farmers stay the course on their hybrids until May 15. “For farmers who have yet to plant their corn, they still have until mid-May to take advantage of the opportunity appropriately adapted germplasm provides and capture the yield potential of full-season germplasm," reports Charlie Foresman, Monsanto corn systems technology lead.
Syngenta also recommends waiting a couple of weeks before making a hybrid switch. Chris Cook, vice president of field agronomy, says field data from many years of research shows a 1 bu./acre decrease in corn yield after a May 10 planting date. But “at the current price of corn, it still makes sense to plant corn at least for the next couple weeks.
“They should plant the same hybrid for the next week, if not longer,” Cook adds. “Growing degree units from year to year are pretty stable, so even if we are late on getting corn in the ground, I think it will catch itself up.”
Pioneer Hi-Bred offers similar advice. “We do emphasize that growers be prudent about switching hybrids,” reports Jerry Harrington, Pioneer Hi-Bred public relations. “Modern hybrids can accommodate shorter seasons. However, there is a point when growers will want to reevaluate. But it is still too early to do that.”
All three companies say there is enough high-quality seed available if growers start changing hybrids. "Monsanto has plenty of corn seed available for farmers who may be switching hybrids." Foresman says. "Our local seed dealers and agronomists are working with farmers and advising them for their particular situation.”
While seed supplies are adequate, hybrid switching creates the problem of logistics, Cook says. “Everybody will pull from somewhere farther north so it is kind of a domino effect,” he explains. “Someone will jump from a 100-day hybrid in southern Minnesota to a 95-day and the 100-day will be available for somewhere else.”
The time to switch from corn to soybeans is even further off. “It doesn’t make sense right now,” Cook says. “May 25 is the date when we start to lose yield on soybeans, so growers can just plant the corn they have right now.”
The good thing is once the weather permits, growers can plant a lot of acres quickly. “The way the corn goes in the ground, in 10 days, it will all be planted,” Cook says.