Local farmers pay for planting early this year - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Local farmers pay for planting early this year

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BENTON -- Planting in southern Illinois is well under way, but some are planting for the second time.

Warm weather in February and March had farmers in itching to get a jump start, but many of those farmers are paying the price today.

"There's some guys that started the first week of April and a lot of guys that got close to done in the last week of April before the big rains came," explained Kelly Robertson, an agronomist and farmer.

Rainfall amounted to more than 10 inches over a five-day period in much of southern Illinois and proved to be too much for some fields.
Once the water moved off fields, the ground quickly crusted over and cracked. That left early planted corn either dead or showing signs of oxygen and nitrogen deficiencies.

"A lot of that corn is yellow," said Robertson. "It's sat in soils that have crusted over. It doesn't have much oxygen to it. A lot of guys are concerned with nitrogen loss in those fields because of the excessive moisture."

The corn that has simply turned yellow can recover with warm weather and sunshine. Studies have shown that planting date only contributes to about 20 percent of yield variability, and while there may be a penalty for planting way too late, there's no silver bullet for planting early.

"We get hung up on planting date studies that say some time in April is the best or this," explained Robertson. "The reality is, it's what happens every day after you plant, not what day you plant on."

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