The Indiana Prairie Farmer and Precision Planting plots at the Purdue University Throckmorton Research Center near Romney are sure to reveal some answers this year. It may not be to all the answers organizers sought about differences in planting death and planter speed, downpressure on units, but it may shed light on the differences in planting date and effects of weather on pollination.
The goal was to plant the plot twice, four replications each time, first in late April or early May, thin in mid-to-late May. Similar plots one year ago were planted in late May. The idea was to determine if planting earlier under cool conditions would affect some of the factors, such as how deep corn was planted.
As it turned out, the weather didn't cooperate, and the plots were planted around May 20 and June 10. The hybrid is Liberty Link, and the herbicides of choice was Ignite. One year ago weather delayed spraying for weeds until the V7 or V8 stage. By mixing in adjuvnats, Pete Illingworth, the farm crew member who works with this project, was able to obtain excellent weed control.
Jeff Phillips, Tippecanoe County Extension Ag educator who also assists with the plots, says he inspected the plots just a few days ago. Weed control isn't as good this year as last year, especially in the first planting that had more time to grow before the application could be made. This would be in keeping with Bill Johnson's caution that when you spray weeds that big that late, you need luck and prayer. Apparently our luck didn't hold as well this year.
As far as how the plots will perform, Phillips says ear formation in the first planting appears variable. He did check an average ear and find 14 rows with 40 kernels per row. The second planting is just now pollinating.
Will late pollination help or hurt? Will corn that pollinated last weekend under cooler conditions than corn that pollinated tow to three weeks earlier fare better? Will there be less kernel abortion, and better tip fill? Only time will be able to answer that question.
The organizers are still confident they can collect all the data they need, and harvest the crop in a timely manner. Bob Nielsen, Purdue corn specialist, says corn planted three weeks behind, such as the second planting, is now only about a week behind, since the excess heat shoved plant maturity forward.Stay tuned for more updates.