The lack of precipitation and the increase in maximum temperature during the last two weeks of May (flowering period) and the last two weeks of June (grain filling) for the first planting date (March 20) could explain the lower yield associated with the 26,000 plant population treatment compared with the second planting date (April 13).

Determining the economically optimum plant population and planting date combination is influenced by five pieces of information: yield, price of corn, price of seed, variable costs associated with corn production, and climate forecast, according to the report.

Each farming operation is different and producers should use their actual costs of production to make management decisions such as planting date and plant population.

If the corn price increased ($6 or $ 7.75), revenue from corn production covered direct expenses for the delayed planting and lower plant populations (18,000 or 22,000) treatments.

Data from 2011 show that if a dry season is expected, a plant population of 22,000 seeds per acre is the best economical choice for the conditions in Fairhope, Ala., and the estimated cost of production.

In 2012, higher plant populations increased returns over direct expenses independent of the price of corn. The later planting date resulted in higher returns over direct expenses. Higher returns over direct expenses were realized when corn was planted on about April 13, compared with corn planted on March 20.

Based on the conditions in Fairhope in 2012, and the estimated costs of production, a seeding rate of 26,000 seeds per acre planted on about April 13, provided the highest returns over direct expense, regardless of price.

Aside from returns over direct expenses, there are other factors to consider prior to making decisions on planting date.

When the planting of one crop is delayed, it may negatively impact the ability to plant additional crops due to available labor and machinery hours.

Furthermore, delaying planting may negatively impact harvesting of other crops and planting of winter commodity crops or cover crops.

The report recommends that decisions regarding the management of planting dates should be made considering the needs of the entire operation, not just one crop.

“There are financial tradeoffs to all production decisions when considering all crops grown on the operation and the role they each play in the profitability of the operation.”


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Lastly, land rent is not considered in the direct expenses due to the variability across operations. This cost should be considered a direct expense and considered as part of the decision-making process.

The overall results from this two-year experiment show that the yield potential of corn grown under multiple plant populations and seeded at two different dates can vary depending on the weather and climate conditions.

Yield and profitability data shows that, under dry conditions, the use of low plant populations, especially 22,000 seeds per acre, may be a good option if planted about the second week of April.

In comparison, if normal precipitation is expected, an increase in plant population will result in higher returns over direct expenses.

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