In addition to planting at the proper time, Thomison said growers can minimize risk by:
- Performing tillage operations only when necessary and under the right soil conditions. It is important to avoid working with wet soil and to reduce secondary tillage passes, which could cause shallow compaction and reduce crop yields. The best time of year for deeper tillage is during the late summer and into fall on dry soil, and only when a compacted zone has been identified.
- Adjusting seeding depth according to soil conditions. Corn should be planted between 1.5 to 2 inches deep, which provides protection against frost and allows for adequate root development. Seed depth should be adjusted for weather and soil conditions.
- Adjusting seeding rates by field. For example, high-yield potential sites with high soil-fertility levels and water-holding capacity can benefit from higher seeding rates, while lower seeding rates work better with droughty soils or in late-planted crops.
- Planting a mix of early-, mid- and full-season hybrids between fields, which reduces damage from diseases and environmental stress at different growths stages. Using this method also spreads out harvest time and workload.
- Planting full-season hybrids first, followed alternately with early-season and mid-season hybrids, which allows the late-season hybrids to get the most benefit from maximum heat unit accumulation, Thomison said.