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Wet Spring Considerations

May 29, 2019

It's no secret that things are behind this year. Spring of 2019 has brought an onslot of rain and severe weather to the vast majority of the growing acres un the US. The end of May/Beginning of June marks a critical time in the decision making process to plant late or to contact insurance, however this is not an easy one to make.

Farmers waiting to for the rain to pass and the fields to dry essentially have 3 choices to consider:

  1. Plant the original intended crop (likely a later maturity hybrid than you typically plant) when soil moisture allows, knowing that yields may be reduced because of planting late.
  2. Plant an alternative crop--especially if your original intended crop was corn, switching to a later maturity soybean variety tends to be a popular choice for a later planting date.
  3. Apply for Prevented Planting, if you haven't been able to get your crop in by the designated planting date, abandon the crop acres and plan a cover crop instead


Each of the 3 options has advantages or drawbacks and might be subjected to the extent that your acres are affected, what your insurance policy covers, or the timing of your decision.

Planting Later

Monitoring the conditions of your field closely will help you decide if planting later is the right choice for you. Are there visible drowned out spots? Will it be difficult/impossible to get the necessary equipment in? How does your soil type impact the ability of the field to dry after rain? How close are you to the late plant date for your state? These are all important questions to ask.

Agronomically, there are also considerations:

Hybrid Selection--when planting later the maturity of your hybrid becomes something to consider. You will most likely want to plant a later maturing hybrid with less growing degree days required. You may also want to choose a hybrid that has a High Response to Fungicide (HRT) as disease presence is more likely with cold, wet growing seasons. A HRT Hybrid will help make your fungicide application more effective.

Macronutrients--Heavy spring rains will likely cause Nitrogen to leach from the soil. If you made a Fall Anhydrous application, it would be best to consider sidedressing a liquid N or topdressing urea to compensate.

Soybean Seed Treatment--Cold, wet soils are perfect conditions for the main 4 diseases that afflict soybean health: Phytophthora, Rhizoctonia, Pythium, and Anthracnose. To combat, you will want a quality seed treatment to protect the seed and give it the best chance possible for normal, healthy growth.

Corn Fungicide Application--A V5 fungicide app, (can be done with your post emerge herbicide application) will be critical if the cooler, wet weather persists. Skipping this application can impact your already impacted yield (due to later planting).

Weed Management--the tendency is to hurry and get the crop in the ground and sometimes we forget to manage weeds properly. Take the time to make that necessary application to achieve optimal yields.

Planting An Alternate Crop

In most of the Midwest, this alternate crop will be soybeans. With the majority of farmers following a corn/soybean rotation, this means you will be planting soybean after soybean. What special considerations do you need to think of in this situation?

Disease--Year after year soybeans can increase soil-borne diseases such as Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) and Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS). Fields should be closely monitored after planting and a Soybean Seed Treatment (mentioned above) is highly encouraged.

Pre-Season Applications--as you prepared for a corn crop, applicati may have already been made. If you have already applied a corn herbicide pay close attention to the Rotational Restriction on herbicide label, you may not be able to plant soybeans without severely damaging the crop.

Applying for Prevent Plant

The last option a farmer has is to contact the insurance company and take Prevent Plant. Each state has different rules on prevent plant, so be sure to contact your insurance agent to understand the last plant dates and how long you have to file a claim after that date is reached. In almost all cases, you will need to apply a cover crop to protect the soil from erosion. Be sure to select a cover crop that you have the equipment to manage as well as one that fits in with your crop plan.

Cold wet springs may be a nuisance, but they aren't a death sentence for you crop year! Many abundant crops have come out of adverse conditions and we encourage you to consider all scenarios when making the decision on what to do this spring,

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