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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Why Do Farmers Rush to Finish Planting?

Being a farmer's wife in the Spring and Fall can be very difficult.  Sure, it can be very difficult year round too:),but there's more of a "push" during planting and harvest.

Since we just wrapped up planting yesterday (except for a few acres of soybeans where the ground needs to have manure hauled on it first.  Yay!!) I thought it was appropriate to answer a question that I've heard before.   First off, farmers are at the mercy of the weather.  We all know how tricky this Spring has been.  Mother Nature just would not give up on the rain!  I tried not to complain too much because in July and August we may be begging for rain.  We have finally had about 4 solid days of zero precip and farmers have been working long hours to get their seed in the ground before the next big rainfall.  Forecasters are calling for rain the rest of this week.  Some farmers I know have been working around the clock.

The ground has to be just right for the seed to germinate and grow.  If the ground is too wet or cold, the seed will remain underground too long and will eventually rot which will result in replanting.  No farmer likes to replant, but we do what we have to do.  I recently did a post that talks about what factors are taken into consideration to determine the right time to start planting.  You can read more about that here.

Researchers have found that the optimum planting dates in Indiana to produce better yields is April 20th-May 10th.  This planting season has proved to been slow with only about 62% of the states corn crop planted as of May 22nd. (source).  So, while those dates are ideal, they aren't always realistic.  Estimated yield loss per day varies from .3% to 1% by the end of May.  There have been some studies that show date doesn't play a huge factor in yield loss.  While those percentages don't seem large, it all adds up.

Here is a chart that better describes the yield dates.  (source) 

Absolute vs relative planting date effect on yield
You can definitely see the window from April 20th-May 5th where the projected yield is the highest.  Of course all of this depends on the weather in the summer.  If it is hot and dry, or cold and rainy...that all effects yields also.

We know that nice days won't last forever and just as much as we welcome dry weather and sunshine, we also welcome rain when it becomes too dry.



  1. We are actually needing the rain up here. There are brown spots in teh grass, and the dust devils are getting bigger and bigger. So glad you finished up planting!

  2. We farm dryland wheat and I have seen where a day difference in planting can highly affect yield.


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