Will Cool, Wet Delay Scare Farmers Out of Test Plots?

Will Cool, Wet Delay Scare Farmers Out of Test Plots?

Answer probably depends upon how long the pattern holds.

A Purdue University release issued a few days ago indicates this cool, wet pattern could continue for a while. It quoted Tony Vyn, a Purdue university Extension specialist, as urging farmers not to give in and plant wet. He suggests that in the end, the costs of planting wet will outweigh the benefits you might gain from getting in a day or so early.

There's a new push to do more test plots, partially fueled by an influx of new products and practices, and partly by renewed emphasis on on-farm research coming from Purdue Extension. However, test plots take time; even strip trials running the entire field length instead of small plots. Will farmers still take time to do it if the season gets late?

"I will listen to the local Extension educator and consider doing a soybean population plot," an Indiana farmer said last week. "The biggest deal is I would have to change sprockets and perhaps readjust the monitor to run at different seeding rates in soybeans. It's not that it's that big a deal, it just takes time and I'm geared in to running once I start.

"If the educator is willing to help set up where the passes go, I'll consider it. However, if this season gets lot, all bets are off. At some point, I'm going to want to get the crop in and not worry about test plots that will take extra time."

That's a sentiment most people can relate too. The trade-off is giving up an opportunity to learn, when no two seasons are alike and you only get 30 to 40 chances to plant in a lifetime, vs. losing time to cover more acres. Every hour of time you lose if you could be planting is worth big bucks.

Ag economists have estimated that hour of time worth $300 or more, and that was when corn was $2.50 per bushel. It all depends upon what comes later in terms of weather, and that's anybody's guess. It also depends upon what date is on the calendar. Some would argue it's more important to get every acre planted as possible if the calendar is past May 10 or 15 vs. past April 20. Others would counter that since early planting dates prove superior on corn almost every year, losing an hour April 20 is just as important.

Unless things turn around quickly, farmers in at least part of the state won't have to worry about the April 20 decision. And they hope for a window, so they don't have to worry about May 15 either.

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